Existing staff challenges and those brought on by the Omicron variant have forced Northern Health to make temporary service adjustments to strengthen patient care.

“Northern Health is proactively identifying services to be adjusted as we manage the ongoing staffing impacts on the health system, to ensure we can continue to provide safe patient care,” said Northern Health president and CEO, Cathy Ulrich. “Existing staffing challenges in the North are compounded by Omicron-related impacts, and some staff will need to be temporarily reassigned within communities in the region, to ensure essential service levels.”

In the coming weeks, ongoing or planned postponements to surgical services will take place at multiple facilities, including the University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George, and at Northeast BC facilities.

The Dawson Creek & District Hospital is reducing surgical bookings for the next three to four weeks as part of the temporary changes.

Long-term care staffing at sites across the region is also being monitored on a daily basis. The health authority says several long-term care facilities in the region have paused admissions and are operating fewer beds.

There are also temporary reductions across the region to adult day programs and non-urgent home health services.

Outpatient ambulatory clinics, some community care services, and outpatient laboratory services will also receive temporary reductions in some communities.

Northern Health says patients and clients affected by service level changes will be contacted directly.

The pandemic has placed inordinate pressure on health care workers in Northern Health across all service areas, but we have also seen innovation and creativity in addressing these challenges,” said Ulrich.

“I thank everyone working in health care in Northern BC for their extraordinary commitment and dedication to the health and wellbeing of northerners.”