Kimmirut health centre closed after 'critical' incidents cause staff shortage

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The health centre in Kimmirut, Nunavut, is closed until Sept. 16, the Health Department says. (Google - image credit)
The health centre in Kimmirut, Nunavut, is closed until Sept. 16, the Health Department says. (Google - image credit)

Nunavut's Health Department has closed yet another health centre in the territory, this one in Kimmirut.

Residents were advised the closure took effect immediately and will remain closed until Sept. 16, according to a news release Thursday from the territorial government.

The release said the closure "is due to critical incidences in the community causing operational constraints."

The nature of the incidents in the south Baffin community of about 425 remains unclear.

Chris Puglia, the department's manager of communications, declined to give out more information except to say, "Staff required time off following the inciden[ts]."

The department said during the temporary closure, paramedics would be on site to provide urgent or life-threatening care along with a combination of virtual health and paramedic services.

Home care, public health and the tuberculosis program will continue with "minimal interruption in services," the department said.

Calls will continue to go to the health centre and be directed to virtual support services, but some calls may be automatically forwarded to other communities, it said. When this happens, there may be a delay, but the health department said callers should not hang up.

During the closure, support staff will be available by phone to assist with services such as filling prescriptions and medical travel, while virtual public health staff, paramedics and other health staff will handle COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and monitoring.

Vaccines will continue to be available by appointment and will be administered by paramedics or a licensed nurse practitioner, the health department said.

The Health Department said in June it was facing a 50 per cent vacancy rate among its permanent nursing staff and would close several health centres this summer.

The Pangnirtung  health centre closed Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 due to staff shortages.

Kinngait's health centre closed Aug. 9, reopening Sept. 7, two weeks ahead of schedule.

The health centre in Taloyoak remains closed after fumes from a fuel spill in mid-August made the facility unusable.