Taking action to stabilize health services in Masset

Press Release

Northern Health is working closely with the Ministry of Health and listening to community leaders on Haida Gwaii, to improve and stabilize health care staffing and patient access to services in Masset, Old Massett and surrounding communities.

Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital (NHGH) in Masset is experiencing challenges with recruitment of both permanent and temporary nursing staff, in addition to anticipated locum physician coverage needs in the coming months. Significant efforts are underway to support health care services at NHGH, including ongoing recruitment of and incentives for nursing staff, and continued deployment of staff through the NH Travel Resource Program.

While this work continues, contingency planning is underway for upcoming periods of limited staffing coverage, which in the short term may include planned, scheduled, or intermittent emergency department service interruptions at Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital particularly during overnight periods. Long-term care at NHGH is not impacted by this planning and will remain open 24/7, and any emergency department service interruptions will be temporary. There are no plans to permanently reduce services at the hospital.

Additional bed capacity is being added at Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre – Xaayda Gwaay Ngaaysdll Naayin Daajing Giids to support patients from Masset requiring acute care, and NH is planning to expand transportation services between Masset and Daajing Giids to support patients accessing services in Daajing Giids, their families and support persons, and for staff travel between communities.

In fall 2021 the Ministry of Health announced a comprehensive health-care worker rural retention program for targeted Northern communities and occupations, designed to offer financial incentives and supports like travel, housing and childcare for priority health-care workers funded by government. This program will be now extended to include Haida Gwaii. The Northern Retention Incentive is in place as of February 1, 2023, and partnership work will commence to address needs for staff housing and daycare services.

“At a recent community meeting with North Island Leaders we heard clearly that every effort must be made to keep the hospital open, and that innovative and collaborative solutions are needed to stabilize services,“ said Northern Health’s Northwest Chief Operating Officer Ciro Panessa. “In partnership with the community, that is what we intend to do.”

To further improve recruitment and retention of skilled health care staff on-island, Northern Health will work in collaboration with Ministry, the Council of the Haida Nation, Old Massett, Skidegate, Daajing Giids, Port Clements and Masset toward a career access and training program for residents of Haida Gwaii. This partnered work will include identifying entry level health careers most needed on Haida Gwaii, recruiting Haida Gwaii residents interested in these health careers and developing approaches to providing both on the job and classroom training as close to home as possible.

Immediate work for the partners will include completing an assessment with recommendations for developing the health career access program over the next six months.  The status of staffing and services at Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital will be closely monitored, with a goal of returning to regular services as soon as possible. As Northern Health collaborates with local partners on these actions, regular updates will be provided on service stabilization.

Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital staff are continuing to provide excellent care under trying circumstances. We appreciate their dedication, and we ask that community members continue to have patience and support the staff, physicians and leaders who remain to provide these important services.


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More