As of last week, Northern Health was trying to fill 366 job postings.
Although that number may seem large, according to Sandra Rossi, regional manager of recruitment and organizational development at Northern Health, this is “fairly normal” considering the size of Northern Health.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a large number,” she said. “When we look at the size of Northern Health, we have about 8000 employees, so if you put it in context it’s actually not that large of a number.”
Northern Health covers an area of nearly 600,000 square kilometres in size – that’s an area larger than France. It stretches from Quesnel and Valemount in the south to the Yukon border, and from the B.C-Alberta border in the east to B.C.’s west coast and Haida Gwaii.
However, Rossi says Northern Health does experience some recruiting challenges.
“Some challenges that we are seeing is limited specialty trained staff, housing, people willing relocate to the north and move to rural, remote areas, and potentially some challenges of access to technology for some of our physicians,” she explained.
As of last week, there were five open postings in the Burns Lake area. These include licensed practical nurse, administrative assistant, medical technologist and support worker.
In 2017, four new doctors started working out of the primary care clinic inside the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre, bringing the total number of doctors in Burns Lake to nine (7.25 full-time equivalency). Before the four doctors arrived, Burns Lake’s new $55-million hospital had a primary care clinic up and running with no physicians.
Soon-to-be mothers in Burns Lake still have to drive to other communities to have their babies due to the lack of a maternity program. In 2014/15, Lakes District News wrote a series of stories describing the frustration, costs and risks that local families face due to the lack of maternity services in Burns Lake.
Earlier this year Northern Health said the lack of specialized health care professionals has not been the only – or even the main – reason maternity services are not offered in Burns Lake.
“While that may be partly due to staffing challenges, it can also be due to the fact that clinicians are not comfortable providing services in the absence of higher care-level support such as emergency C-section capability, or there are too few births, which impacts the ability of staff to maintain skills and competencies,” said Northern Health in a statement.