No birthing services in Inuvik, N.W.T., until at least September

There will be no birthing services in Inuvik, N.W.T., until September, the Northwest Territories government says.

Labour and delivery services will be temporarily suspended at Inuvik Regional Hospital (IRH) from June 30 until September 8, Health and Social Services said in a notice Friday.

"The NTHSSA [Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority] is continuing to recruit for qualified staff and will monitor staffing levels. Should shortages persist, an extension of service reduction or reintroduction may be required and will be announced at the appropriate time," the notice said.

Patients who were planning to give birth in Inuvik who are 36 weeks pregnant or more will be contacted and advised to transfer their care to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

"Efforts will be made to ensure emergency labour and delivery care is available at IRH during the service reduction, however this cannot be guaranteed," the notice said.

Pre- and post-natal assessments will continue in Inuvik and anyone in the community who is pregnant and goes into labour during this time is asked to present at the Inuvik hospital's emergency department for care.

To try to reduce the duration of the closure, Health and Social Services has done "external and internal call outs for staff" to go to Inuvik.

They have also contacted nursing agencies to see if staff can be recruited for a short term to keep services running.

"To date, these efforts have yielded limited staff to assist, but not enough to avoid this service reduction."

Affected patients will be contacted "as early as possible," the health authority said.