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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Northern Health confirmed that maternity services at the Fort St. John Hospital are now available after a 36-hour staffing shortage earlier this month.

For the past two weeks, staff have received multiple reports claiming the birthing centre at the hospital was closed. Some of these reports came from hospital staff who chose to remain anonymous due to fear of losing their jobs.

One tip from a staff member said a sign was placed outside the birthing centre saying it was closed as part of a planned “service disruption.”

“Anyone who isn’t gonna deliver imminently has to be sent to Dawson Creek,” according to the staff member.

A sign outside of the Fort St. John Hospital's birthing centre. (Supplied)
A sign outside of the Fort St. John Hospital’s birthing centre on November 5, 2022. (Supplied)

Following the initial report of the closure, reached out to Northern Health and was given a statement on “intermittent disruptions.” After receiving more reports of the closure, a push for more information was made and received by Northern Health.

Eryn Collins, with the health authority, said there was a 36-hour period of “staffing challenges” earlier this month, specifically an unexpected shortage in maternity nursing staff.

This period landed on November 5th and 6th, and Collins said, “if I’m not mistaken,” the sign was placed primarily during the overnight hours when the birthing centre entrance was closed.

“Patients who were presenting there were redirected to the emergency department entrance to enter the facility and be assessed in the emergency department for whatever their care needs were,” Collins said.

She said all patients who needed prenatal and maternity care were seen and assessed at the Fort St. John hospital.

“There were plans in place that if a patient’s care needs couldn’t be managed locally, that they could be referred to or transferred to another facility,” Collins added.

Since that period, those staffing issues have reportedly been addressed and “babies are being delivered in Fort St. John,” said Collins.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.