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Staffing shortages lead to temporary closures of 4 B.C. Interior emergency departments


Four emergency departments in B.C.'s Interior were on temporary diversions over the weekend due to staffing shortages.

The Interior Health Authority issued three notices Sunday, saying emergency departments at Creston Valley Hospital, Clearwater's Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital and Oliver's South Okanagan General Hospital were temporarily closed.

While Oliver's department was diverted for only six hours on Sunday, Creston's and Clearwater's were closed overnight and expected to reopen Monday at 7 a.m.

Another notice was issued Friday, warning the Ashcroft emergency department would be on diversion for the entire weekend. That emergency department isn't typically open on weekdays or overnights.

Residents requiring emergency care were urged to call 911 or visit the next nearest emergency departments. For some communities, those other options were more than 100 kilometres away.

"Interior Health regrets this temporary change to normal operations," the health authority said in each of its advisories.

Emergency departments in Interior Health have faced ongoing staffing limitations, leading to regular diversions. In fact, Clearwater's department, which has been hit with more than a dozen temporary closures so far this year, was on diversion for most of last week.

Earlier this year, the community's mayor said the issue's been ongoing for months.

"I can't really keep track of the number of times our emergency room's closed, it's been an ongoing issue since early last fall," Merlin Blackwell told CTV News Vancouver in May, when the department closed at least five times. "It's deeply concerning for our citizens."

Health officials have previously blamed health-care staffing shortages on the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises in the province, like last year's heat dome, wildfires and floods.

"You have to make adjustments either by pulling people in or by moving people around," Health Minister Adrian Dix said of diversions earlier this year. "That's why the public health system works well in those circumstances." Top Stories

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