In recent months, there have been numerous interruptions of obstetrical services at Shawville Hospital.
PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA / EMILEE FLANSBERRY-LANOIX
Pontiac pregnant women may have to give birth in another hospital other than Shawville for several more months. The CBC has learned that two of the five obstetrician doctors will leave the facility permanently in late December, when deliveries are already at risk because of a shortage of nurses.
The Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) has confirmed these departures to Radio-Canada, without revealing the reasons.
By the beginning of January, urban physicians could be involved to maintain the obstetrical service in Shawville.
A service loan from another region could also be considered, a solution similar to that used by the Maniwaki Hospital last year, which will have made it possible to avoid certain interruptions of services in surgery .
This new information is in addition to the glaring shortage of nurses trained in obstetrics, a situation that led to five suspension of services in one month this fall. According to the information collected by Radio-Canada, the announced reinforcement will not be enough to avoid other interruptions .
Twelve obstetric nurses and five obstetrician physicians are needed to ensure the full and safe service of this unit at Shawville Hospital. Only five nurses provide the services at the moment.
Since the beginning of November, two nurses from the Montreal Jewish General Hospital have come to lend a helping hand to their sisters in Shawville.
However, the risk of further breaks in services is still very much present. If a nurse on the obstetrics team falls ill, goes on extended leave or resigns, the CISSShas no room for maneuver.
He will end up with another interruption on his arms and pregnant women will have to be redirected elsewhere. The departure of two doctors complicates the puzzle.
The assistant director of human resources, Robert Giard, faces this challenge on a daily basis and tries to find solutions in the short, medium and long term. He is constantly wondering how he will be able to maintain obstetrics in Shawville.
The situation is fragile, it is a work of acrobatics that must be done now.
Robert Giard, Assistant Director, Human Resources, Communications and Legal Affairs, CISSS Outaouais
Robert Giard (left) is Assistant Director, Human Resources, Communications and Legal Affairs, CISSS Outaouais. PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA
Nearly 600 additional hours … in 2 months
The Union of Care Professionals in the Outaouais also notes an alarming shortage in its ranks.
Data obtained by the CBC reveals that obstetrical nurses at Shawville Hospital have done a total of 582 overtime hours in just two months, in addition to their regular shifts.
The exhaustion of the healthcare professionals in this department puts them in a difficult situation. The risk of error is high, according to the union president.
It’s very difficult. It would have been necessary to act, not now! It should have reacted well before that.
Patrick Guay, President of the Union of Care Professionals of the Outaouais
The arrival of new blood from the Montreal Jewish General Hospital on the team is welcomed by the nurses, according to the president of their union, but he believes it is a band-aid solution unfortunately.
Additional stress for future mothers
Marie Pier Carle is due to give birth to her first child in mid-November. Pregnant a little over 38 weeks, she still does not know in which hospital she will give birth.
She and her husband chose to settle in the Pontiac, where Ms. Carle comes from, after graduation. They intend to raise their children there. She would like to experience her first birth in her community, with the staff she knows and who knows the details of her pregnancy, which is happily going so far.
Marie Pier Carle is a mother-in-law who lives in the Pontiac. PHOTO: RADIO-CANADA / LAURIE TRUDEL
However, if there are not enough staff at Shawville Hospital for the birth of her boy, she will have to go to the Gatineau Hospital or the Pembroke Hospital in Ontario. Even if she tries to remain positive, the future mother of little Jack must prepare for all scenarios.
She and her husband chose Gatineau as Plan B, because they prefer to live this wonderful, but still stressful time, in their mother tongue, French.
What makes their anxiety increase by one notch, however, is the distance that separates them from the hospital.
It’s 20 minutes to go to Shawville. It gives us about an hour and a half if we drive at a steady speed to get to Gatineau. It is certainly worrying
-Marie Pier Carle
Carle worries that she will not have time to go to the hospital to give birth, as was the case for another Pontiac resident last month.
She also wonders what will happen if, in contrast, she goes too early to Gatineau and the work is not officially started.
Does that mean I have to come back an hour and a half and go back another hour and a half? she asks herself.
No miracle solution to the crisis for several months
A short-term permanent solution is hard to imagine for the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Center.
Tomorrow morning, I would have 10 nurses who would like to go to work at the Shawville Hospital, these 10 nurses if they come out of school, I have to bring them to a 6-month orientation , explains Robert Giard who would like to find a way to reduce this orientation period.
Last summer, Midwives in the Outaouais narrowly avoided a break in obstetrics services at Shawville Hospital.
It was during their days off from the Outaouais Birthplace that these midwives took care of the Pontiac’s future moms. The health authorities then spoke of a temporary situation of staff shortage.
In addition to the two nurses on loan from the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, steps are also underway to obtain the support of independent labor.
The CISSS Outaouaisis in intensive recruitment with educational institutions and says it is recruiting in France as well. Health authorities are even trying to convince retired nurses in Pontiac, trained in obstetrics, to mentor nurses interested in the practice.
The Integrated Health Center is currently posting for two full-time positions in the Pontiac, a Personnel Management Officer and an Administrative Technician.
The goal is to optimize the recruitment and management of staff while Shawville Hospital is facing a major crisis that is not about to fade.
On average, there are 114 deliveries a year at the Shawville Hospital, according to the CISSS Outaouais, while there are more than 2,200 at the Gatineau Hospital each year .