The Lakes District Hospital in Burns Lake has recently filled three primary care nurse spots, bringing its nursing staff to four members. (Blair McBride photo)

Primary care nurse capacity filled in Burns Lake

Northern Health (NH) recently filled three primary care nursing positions at the Lakes District Hospital in Burns Lake.

One full-time nurse came on board in June, one new part-time nurse started in July and a second part-time nurse began working on a contract basis on Sept. 30, as Marie Hunter, Health Service Administrator at the hospital told Lakes District News.

A third part-time nurse had already been working at the hospital for several years.

“All of our primary care nurse lines are filled,” Hunter said.

NH had been recruiting for registered nurses in Burns Lake since the summer.

Amid several reports in Lakes District News related to concerns over wound care availability in Burns Lake, Hunter pointed out that all registered nurses receive basic training on wound care in their four-year nursing programs.

READ MORE: Resident’s future in Burns Lake uncertain amid healthcare gaps

READ MORE: Specialized wound therapy available in Burns Lake

READ MORE: Residents still sent out of Burns Lake for wound care

Hunter also addressed alleged instances of some nurses not being given further training in wound care once they started working in a hospital.

“[After they’re hired] they start their learning pathway. If we have a nurse who says, ‘I didn’t get [wound care training], it might be because they might not have been working through that part of their learning pathway. It just depends on where they were when they were first hired, because you don’t have everybody learning everything all at the same time. There are still services that have to be delivered. It’s staggered,” she explained.

“Nurses have opportunities to take wound management. The learning pathway is giving a bit more condensed knowledge on management. It doesn’t take them into an expert role but it gives them the generalist knowledge they need.”

NH has said previously that nurses who specialize in wound care can help train others on the job, and a nurse who specialized in wound care was working at the Lakes District Hospital on a contract basis until April.

LOOK BACK: No wound care nurse at Burns Lake hospital

There were no plans to hire a new wound care specialist nurse, Hunter said.

“We wouldn’t hire for a wound care specialist specifically in Burns Lake. Thinking back over the history of the hospital here, the only time we would’ve needed a wound care specialist was after the [Babine] sawmill explosion and with the burn victims. And we had a specialist who showed our staff how to make the burn dressings. If we have a few clients with complex wounds we would use the resources we have to treat them.”

Lisa Cant, Community Services Manager at the Lakes District Hospital said nurses who feel they need more assistance in that area can receive it through the Pixalere Wound Care Management Software.

“If a nurse comes across an issue where they’re looking at a wound and they’re not really sure and need some advice and another set of eyes, they use the program where they’re sending photos through our system to link up with that expert, and show the wound and seek advice and how to manage it. They have that conversation and then they can come up with a plan for that patient,” Cant said.

That electronic system has been utilized since 2012, when NH health professionals used it to help treat victims who were burned in the sawmill blast, Hunter added.

The health service administrator also responded to concerns that some patients at the Lakes District Hospital received insufficient wound care.

“Every client has the option to follow or not follow the treatment program. Sometimes it’s out of our hands,” Hunter said.

“There might be specific clients who had unsatisfactory issues and felt slighted in some way. But they also have that venue to come back and talk to the providers, instead of saying ‘Northern Health didn’t do this or Northern Health didn’t do that’ when in fact Northern Health does have these programs and resources. But it very much comes back to that person’s choice. Do they want to follow the [treatment] regime that’s been set up for them?”

Another issue that has come up in reports on wound care is the availability of Vaccum-Assisted Closure (VAC) therapy in Burns Lake.

NH spokesperson Eryn Collins confirmed on Sept. 27 that there is not yet a timeline for bringing the service to Burns Lake.

Mayor Dolores Funk has previously spoken with NH about the provision of additional health services in Burns Lake, but she told Lakes District News on Sept. 27 that she had no new information on the issue.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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