The mayor of Saint-Quentin said she's worried about the relatively low vaccination rate among hospital employees in her town, but said she's just as concerned about service interruptions that have plagued the hospital in the past month.
In a public technical briefing on Friday, Dr. France Desrosiers, CEO of Vitalité Health Network, told reporters that only about four in 10 employees at the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Desrosiers said the average vaccination rate at Vitalité hospitals is over 88 per cent.
Saint-Quentin Mayor Nicole Somers said she was surprised to hear about the low vaccination rate, especially considering it's a hospital.
"We all thought that they would be the first ones to go and have their vaccine because they have to deal with cases all the time," said Somers.
"Why wouldn't you want to protect yourself?"
But Somers said a low vaccination rate isn't the only problem the town has with the hospital.
She cites multiple service disruptions at the hospital, which serves a rural and relatively remote area of the province.
On Sept. 21, Vitalité asked people to limit overnight visits to the hospital because of a lack of staff at the hospital.
That disruption is only scheduled to last until Monday, but it wasn't the first time it happened.
Patients were asked to limit ER visits between Sept. 18 and 19 and between Sept. 5 and 6.
Visitation at the hospital was also suspended between Sept. 3 and Sept. 15.
Rural, remote community
The nearest hospitals to the Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin are Grand Falls General Hospital, a 51-minute drive, and Campbellton Regional Hospital, which is more than an hour away.
Somers said staffing has long been a concern at the hospital, but service disruptions of this length are new.
She said she's seen the schedules for doctors at the hospital, which raised concerns for her.
"When last I saw it there was no doctor scheduled for … the night shift last Tuesday," said Somers.
'This is a Vitalité problem'
She said she hasn't heard anything about the service reduction being extended, but noted Vitalité often posts the notices at the last minute.
She said she wants Vitalité to do something about the service reductions, and about the low vaccination rates, because she said they are the health network's jurisdiction
"I think that's now Vitalité's job to see why they're not vaccinated and what they can do to change their mind," said Somers. "This is a Vitalité problem, not ours."
CBC News has reached out to Vitalité about the service reductions and vaccinations at the hospital and have not yet received a reply.