The health minister guarantees that the obstetrics department will remain in Gander
After mothers and doctors raised concerns about the potential closure of the maternity care unit at the James Paton Memorial regional health center, Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister Tom Osborne said Gander would keep her.
The unit at Gander is struggling to stay open due to staff shortages. Pregnant women were told to seek help in Grand Falls-Windsor, nearly 60 miles away, in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018, and the Health Accord — a provincial plan to reshape health care in the province — recommended permanent diversions to Grand Falls-Windsor.
On Wednesday, Osborne said midwifery units are needed in both communities.
“I’ve looked at the number of births in both places and I think there is a need for midwifery in both places,” he said. “There will be two locations.”
But Osborne said the focus must remain on recruiting health workers.
“We need to focus on recruiting and retaining individuals. That was one of the challenges in the central region and maybe part of the reason for it [Health Accord] Recommendation.”
Osborne said health shortages are a challenge across Canada and abroad, but his department is focused on recruiting health workers to operate units in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor, which cover about 90,000 people.
He said the province’s recruitment strategy of recruiting nurses from India will “provide solid results” although those nurses still have to go through the immigration process, which will take “a few months”.
Osborne said Newfoundland and Labrador are also looking to recruit doctors in the UK next week after a stint in Ireland.
“We have worked diligently to recruit health professionals with incentives such as the come home incentive, the incentive to start family practices, and other incentives and grants,” he said.
“We are at least as competitive as most Canadian jurisdictions. We are currently in a very competitive global environment in terms of recruitment as there is a shortage of healthcare professionals in every province and globally.”
Osborne said the Gander to Grand Falls-Windsor diversions for midwifery services will end once the province is able to hire the health workers it needs.
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