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Shortage of doctors prompts decision to temporarily move obstetrical services from Gander to Grand Falls-Windsor

Two independent investigations into Central Health's administration were announced in the same week after complaints from staff about alleged mismanagement and unfair treatment.
- Clarence Ngoh

GANDER, NL – A shortage of obstetricians has brought about a three-month diversion of obstetrical labour and delivery services from Gander to Grand Falls-Windsor.

Based on Central Health’s calculations, the diversion will affect approximately 20 families per month.

It’s the third time in as many months that obstetrical labour and delivery services have been diverted to another part of the Central Health Authority region.
The shift in service has been taking place between James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander and the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Heather Brown, vice-president of long-term care and community health – which includes maternal, child and population health – said the diversion has been about ensuring the well-being of expectant mothers and their babies.

“In order to maintain quality and safe care for moms and babies, at this particular point in time we have (fewer) available obstetricians at James Paton, so we will be going on diversion,” said Brown.

While she didn’t identify how many obstetricians the Gander department has, she did say there are 174 physician positions in the central region and 15 vacancies. This ranges from obstetricians to other specialty areas and primary care.

“We do have a lower-than-normal obstetrician and gynecologist numbers in Gander, but we are constantly trying to recruit and work with local services as well.
“But at this point in time we do not have the (staff) complement to ensure safe, quality care.”

Central Health’s website has obstetrician/gynecologist positions listed for both Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor. The health authority is also seeking locum doctors to serve in this role as well.

Brown noted that other gynecological and prenatal services won’t be affected.

Prenatal clinic referrals from family physicians will continue to be received by the Women’s Health Network.

Expectant moms do not need to call to reschedule their prenatal clinic appointments and do not need new referrals from their family physicians.
If there are any changes to their prenatal clinic appointment details, they will be contacted.

Scheduled prenatal appointments (including ultrasounds) and gynecology services at James Paton Memorial are not affected by the diversion.

Expectant mothers who feel they may be in labour should proceed to the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, or if delivery is imminent, go to the nearest emergency department for assessment.

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