Peace Arch Hospital will be getting a new pediatrician this fall to help combat staffing shortages in the department.
Fraser Health made the announcement on Wednesday, (Aug. 31) via press release, as a step to “further support the stabilization of pediatric and maternity services at the hospital.”
A temporary closure of the maternity ward at Peace Arch Hospital announced last Jan. 14, but quickly reversed in the face of community backlash, which included protests outside the hospital, noted the measure would have been in place for at least three months starting Jan. 28. The reason given by Fraser Health at the time was a “failure to secure pediatric coverage.”
Several months earlier, between July 8 and 19, 2021, pregnant women who went into labour or needed other maternity-related services were directed to go somewhere other than Peace Arch Hospital.
“Expectant individuals who have pre-existing plans to deliver at Peace Arch Hospital should attend Langley Memorial Hospital for their delivery,” they were told at the time.
Since then, efforts have been in place to bolster staffing in the White Rock hospital’s pediatric department, which delivers about 1,000 babies each year.
“When your child is sick, you want to know there is help closer to home. A new pediatrician means young families in White Rock and South Surrey will soon benefit from improved maternity services,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, in Wednesday’s release.
“I am grateful for our staff and medical staff as well as our community partners’ commitment to working together to ensure we continue to deliver high quality acute maternity and pediatric services at Peace Arch Hospital,” added Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health president and CEO, in the same release.
“Recruitment of health care providers is one of many steps our government is taking to expand access to healthcare in the Fraser Health region and across the province.”
Staffing shortages among pediatricians is not a new issue, Dr. Semion Strovsky told PAN in January. The job-openings saw nurses at the hospital offering to seek special training in pediatric procedures to help fill the demand.
The pediatric department of Peace Arch Hospital is comprised of part-time pediatricians, Fraser Health told Peace Arch News.
Fraser Health, meanwhile, is continuing its national and international efforts to recruit “a full complement” of qualified pediatricians for Peace Arch Hospital.
Also coming in the fall will be a Rapid Access Pediatric Clinic at the hospital, Fraser Health promises, to provide urgent care to youth in the community.
An exact start date for the new pediatrician was not provided, but Fraser Health told PAN that the pediatrician is in the process of training.
-With files from Alex Browne, Nick Greenizan and Aaron Hinks