The North West Hospital and Health Service is downgrading the Julia Creek Multi-Purpose Health Service from a Level 2 facility to a Level 1 facility from November 18.
This means there will be no doctor on site and patients will need to book for services (unless emergency) and patients requiring additional care will be transferred to Cloncurry, Mount Isa or Townsville.
The change will remain in place until March 2020 when it will be reviewed.
The NWHHS said the downgrade is due to a staff shortages and recruitment issues and had been scheduled for December 1 but has been fast-tracked due to key staff members in quarantine following the Adelaide cluster.
NWHHS acting chief executive Dr Karen Murphy said due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and border closures, most hospitals and health services had been struggling to fill positions, especially in remote locations.
"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, over the preceding 12 weeks, the NWHHS has found challenges in recruiting enough nursing staff to support services at Julia Creek MPHS," Dr Murphy said.
Julia Creek MPHS experienced on average, one acute inpatient admission for the October 2019 to March 2020 period and has Julia Creek has two aged care residents.
Dr Murphy said there would be no loss of employment for permanent employees and patient care would remain a priority for Julia Creek MPHS. Staff will be available and on-call outside of shift hours and patients would continue to be transferred to Cloncurry, Mount Isa, or Townsville dependent on severity.
"The NWHHS will continue to monitor the situation frequently and I can assure the community that the same level of care will be provided through doctors and nursing staff, however there is limited capacity to admit low acuity patients overnight," she said.
"This model enables longer monitoring of admitted patients and a resource to undertake home care support."
The NWHHS expects nursing workforce shortages to ease once border restrictions are eased and for the for the purposes of model of care planning, the NWHHS has assumed that workforce shortages will ease by March 2021 and will review plans accordingly.
The story Julia Creek Hospital downgrade due to staff shortage first appeared on The North West Star.