Doctor shortage worse
From Dec. 23 to Jan. 18, there will be only two doctors in the community. For two weekends in January, a doctor from Yellowknife will also help out.
As a result, the walk-in medical clinic will be closed and the number of appointments will be limited.
"If the public have emergency issues, the hospital will be the place to be seen," says Paul Vieira, the CEO of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
Originally, there were fears the community might be down to one doctor. However, one locum is staying to the end of the calendar year, and one of the town's permanent doctors is coming back early from vacation on Jan. 3.
Vieira says there have been short stretches in the past when the community has been down to two doctors. "This is longer than usual."
The situation is largely because getting locum physicians at Christmas is difficult.
"It's a time when locums want to be with their families, as well," Vieira says.
Hay River normally has at least four doctors.
"There will be three and possibly four doctors after the 18th," Vieira says.
"We continue to try to recruit permanent physicians, which is the best model for the community."
Vieira says those efforts are being hampered by a national shortage of family physicians.