A lack of pediatricians at the Edmundston Regional Hospital will result in pediatric services being interrupted for nearly two weeks, according to a press release from Vitalité Health Network on Friday.
The interruption will also lead to changes to obstetric services for pregnant patients.
It will last from Monday at 8 a.m. until Aug. 5 at 8 a.m.
"In the short term, we must review our delivery of pediatric services to optimize and maintain our services," Dr. France Desrosiers, president and CEO of Vitalité Health Network, said in the press release.
"We are actively seeking solutions with the people on site and our partners at Horizon Health Network, and we are certain that we will find short and medium-term solutions."
Those who need pediatric services should go to the emergency department at Edmundston Regional Hospital, where they will be treated on a case-by-case basis and possibly sent to another facility, said the release.
Pregnant patients not requiring urgent care will be directed to Rivière-du-Loup, Que., for their deliveries, but Vitalité will communicate directly with those affected.
Jean-Claude D'Amours, Edmundston-Madawaska Centre MLA and Opposition health critic, said in an interview with Radio-Canada that he wants a recruitment plan from the government to make up for the lack of health professionals in the province.
"We are asking people to travel for hours and hours to get basic service," he said in a Radio-Canada story translated from French.
"For parents, having the opportunity to give birth is still a basic service. And we are telling them to go elsewhere at their expense and to hope that everything will be fine."
Other hospitals across the province are also experiencing staff shortages, particularly impacting emergency departments.
Edmundston Mayor Eric Marquis said he was surprised when he received a phone call on Friday explaining the lack of pediatric and obstetric services at the hospital. He said he was most surprised that patients would be transferred to give birth.
"This concerns us a lot," he said. "So we will need to work with Vitalité to make sure that this situation does not happen anymore."
Marquis said he hopes the city will be able to create a contingency plan with Vitalité to avoid having pregnant patients be transferred to another hospital.
Campbellton Regional Hospital stopped obstetric services in April 2020 and Vitalité recently said they will not be returning anytime soon. Marquis said he wants to make sure Edmundston avoids a similar situation.
"We will need to work with [Vitalité] to find what are the options and how we can help out as a city."