A new full-time ultrasound tech has been hired for St. John Hospital after a two-year recruitment process.
The new tech is coming to Vanderhoof from the USA and is expected to start work this April, once she has been through the immigration process.
The last full-time ultrasound tech retired just over two years ago and since then the hospital has been using locums on and off on a temporary basis, but with no regular service.
“It’s been two years or more since we’ve had a regular service, so this will mean that people…don’t any longer have to wait until we have a temporary tech in or head into Prince George for their tests,” said Eryn Collins, a communications officer for Northern Health.
Vanderhoof will now be the local referral centre for ultrasound services for Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof itself.
“It’s something that we have been lobbying the government for, for quite some time,” said District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen.
“We had a very good ultrasound machine and just after we purchased it our ultrasound tech retired….then the hospital was using locums that would come here one week every six weeks but it was quite impractical,” he said.
Thiessen added that the district was also concerned that since the machine was mobile, that it would be transferred out of the community.
“So we lobbied very hard and we got a promise from the CEO of Northern Health and the board chairman this past year…that it would not leave our community,” said Thiessen.
The job of an ultrasound tech is a highly specialized position and they are in huge demand, hence the amount of time it has taken Northern Health to fill the posting.
“It’s just like a lot of other skilled health professionals – they are widely sought after all over the place and everybody’s in competition for them,” said Collins.
In order to recruit for such a position, representatives from Northern Heath would attend career fairs at BC Institute of Technology and both the Northern and Southern Alberta Institutes of Technology (NAIT and SAIT), as well as posting the positions with the professional society that sonographers belong to, and placing ads in journals and on relevant websites.
“It is a competitive recruitment environment for these positions, with a national shortage of people with the skills,” said Collins.
“In the case of BCIT for example, only 24 new techs graduate each year,” she said.
“This is a really positive development that’s going to improve the availability of services for people in four communities and points in between,” she added.