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24/7 hospital emergency room in B.C. Interior closed for 30 of 48 hours this weekend

South Okanagan General Hospital is seen in this image from the Interior Health website. (interiorhealth.ca) South Okanagan General Hospital is seen in this image from the Interior Health website. (interiorhealth.ca)
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Of the 48 hours the emergency department at South Okanagan General Hospital would normally be expected to be open this weekend, it will be closed for 30 of them.

The nominally 24-hour-a-day facility has seen a rash of closures to its ER over the last six days, all of them due to "limited physician availability," according to Interior Health.

The health authority announced the latest closure around midday Saturday, when the Oliver hospital was already in the midst of an emergency department closure that began Friday night.

The facility is scheduled to reopen at 6 p.m. Saturday, but it will be closing again at 6 a.m. Sunday, and remaining closed until 6 p.m.

With the current closure having begun Friday night, that means the only hours the facility will be open this weekend are the 12 hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning and the six hours between 6 p.m. and midnight Sunday night.

During the remaining 30 hours of the weekend, patients needing emergency department care are being diverted to Penticton Regional Hospital, about 40 kilometres away.

The Sunday closure is the fourth one Interior Health has announced for South Okanagan General Hospital over the last six days. The emergency department was also closed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and again during the same hours on Wednesday.

Other inpatient services remain available at the facility when the emergency department is closed, according to the health authority.

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