Less than a month after asking pregnant women who go into labour to avoid going to Peace Arch Hospital due to a staffing shortage, Fraser Health has announced a boost to pediatric coverage at the Semiahmoo Peninsula hospital.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Fraser Health said the hospital will now have pediatric coverage from Aug. 9 through the end of 2021. As well, the health authority noted that Peace Arch’s pediatricians “are in the process of signing a new contract that will enable us to bolster our recruiting efforts for more pediatricians at that site.”
A temporary maternity diversion will still be in place from July 30 until Aug. 9.
“We expect this temporary diversion to impact a relatively small number of expecting individuals. In advance of the diversion period, impacted patients will be notified directly by their physicians or midwives to discuss their birth plan and ensure their needs are met,” the release states.
Fraser Health originally noted in a July 2 announcement that a diversion would be in place from July 8-19, and suggested those in labour head to Langley Memorial Hospital instead. At that time, Dr. Michael Smith, the health authority’s regional medical director of child and youth programs, said “obviously, it’s not ideal for families,” with other Fraser Health officials adding that the step is the best option we have right now.”
The gaps in coverage are a result of vacation schedules, physicians working more than they should be, as well as the fact that as a smaller hospital, PAH has trouble recruiting pediatricians to work there, Smith said.
Other health-care services at the hospital will not be affected by the upcoming diversion, Fraser Health said.
“Diversions are to ensure safe care for people, will continue to happen as needed and are part of how a network of hospitals support each other,” the release states.
“Fraser Health’s priority is ensuring babies, children, and their parents have access to emergency and urgent care when they need it. We are committed to providing ongoing and sustainable maternity services in the communities we serve.”