The health authority in central Newfoundland says it doesn't have the doctors it needs to look after pregnant women at two hospitals an hour's drive apart.
Once again, Central Health is suspending obstetrical services at the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander and diverting patients to the regional health centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The diversion, which began April 11, will continue for a minimum of four to six weeks, according to CEO Rosemarie Goodyear.
"Right now, we have one full-time permanent obstetrician on staff there [in Gander] and we've been filling in the schedule with locums [doctors who fill in for an agreed time]," Goodyear told theCentral Morning Show on Friday.
Lately, even that has been a challenge.
"Our schedule was not always fully fleshed out. We do have gaps," she said. "As the gaps get larger and become more unpredictable, then diversion tends to be the safest option."
The diversion includes not only women in labour, but anyone 22 weeks pregnant or more who would normally come to the Gander hospital for regular checkups.
The doctor shortage has been a problem for two years, Goodyear said, despite recruitment efforts by the health authority.
"We are very, very hopeful that we will have potentially two new physicians in place, probably one in the fall and then one early in the new year.