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Lethbridge's OBGYN crunch puts strain on resources: doctors

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With just one permanent obstetrician in place at Lethbridge's Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH), physicians in the labour and delivery unit are continuing to push the province for more resources.

"This is really just trying to put out fires at this point," said Dr. Jonathan Cluett, a locum OBGYN at the hospital, in an interview with CTV News.

Cluett is from Calgary, but was called in to help the hospital cover the shift.

He couldn't speak for long because he needed to help a patient, but said on social media earlier this week that it's "a full-blown women's health crisis" at the hospital.

Other OBGYNs say the shortage is a big concern, especially for women with high-risk pregnancies.

Physicians have said they're seeing women who are bleeding profusely or presenting later than they normally would because of conditions that have gone untreated.

"Things are being caught in their pregnancies later than they would be otherwise and they're seeing, frankly, a physician that is distracted because they're also simultaneously managing a busy labour and patients in the emergency department, while trying to run an outpatient clinic," said Dr. Marguerite Heyns, another one of CRH's locum OBGYNs.

Alberta Health Services confirmed to CTV News that the circumstances of Lethbridge's labour and delivery unit at the CRH hasn't changed since last October.

It says two OBGYNs are on leave from the hospital and are expected to return later this year, but locum OBGYNs will continue to be brought in from Calgary and other areas around the province in the meantime.

However, there are still calls to the province to improve the situation at the CRH for patients and staff alike.

Those recommendations include a dedicated space for prenatal care along with additional funding to pay for more staff to help manage Lethbridge's clinic.

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