N.W.T. government again looking for someone to oversee operations at Stanton hospital

The N.W.T. government is, once again, looking for someone to oversee operations at the territory's main hospital.

Stanton Territorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Riles announced on Monday she is leaving the position. She took the job just 17 months ago, during the lead up to the opening of the new $350 million Stanton hospital in Yellowknife.

Despite coming with a pay range of $161,675 to $230,958, plus benefits, the government has had difficulty finding someone to keep the job for any length of time. Riles is the sixth person to fill the position, then leave it, in the last five years.

According to a health department official, Riles is leaving "for a number of personal and career-related reasons." She will stay on to help the next chief operating officer settle into the role, then resume her old job of executive director of clinical integration for the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.

The new hospital has had a rough beginning under Riles' watch. There have been water leaks that have led to mould problems, problems with heating and air handling systems, complaints about food, and a staffing shortage.

In a letter sent to the hospital's CEO and the deputy minister of health around the time the hospital officially opened, the Union of Northern Workers said staff morale was at an all-time low. The union said nurses were working repeated 16 hour shifts because of the staffing shortage, and staff concerns were being brushed off by senior management.

"Workers feel inadequately trained in the new systems in the new building ... comprehensive training and appropriate orientation should have been a first priority before moving into the new location," wrote union president Todd Parsons.