On Tuesday, July 10, Interior Health issued advice stating Elkford Health Centre would not be able offer emergency department services that day due to a shortage of nurses. File photo

Elkford ED closure “unusual”

The 24-hour closure of the Elkford emergency department has been described as an “unusual situation”.

The 24-hour closure of the Elkford emergency department (ED) last week has been described as an “unusual situation”.

On Tuesday, July 10, Interior Health issued advice stating Elkford Health Centre would not be able offer emergency department services that day due to a shortage of nurses.

Residents requiring urgent care were advised to call 9-1-1 or travel to Sparwood or Fernie, between 25 and 50 minutes away.

According to Interior Health, one person visited the health centre during the closure but did not require urgent care and arranged to return when the emergency department reopened the following day.

Elkford mayor Dean McKerracher said the unexpected closure was concerning.

“It’s always a concern when there are no emergency services or healthcare in the community, but it’s not under our control,” he said.

The ED is staffed by two permanent nursing staff with multiple casual staff who fill in, according to Interior Health community manager Christine Neal.

Five physicians support ED patients and share the equivalent of two full-time positions dedicated to the facility.

“The last time the ED closed due to staffing was August 9, 2016,” said Neal.

“We have a great group of dedicated nurses in Elkford and Tuesday was an unusual situation.”

While all positions are currently filled, Neal says Interior Health is always recruiting new casual staff to cover shifts when permanent staff are on vacation or away for other reasons.

McKerracher, who is chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board, would like to see emergency services in Elkford expanded.

Currently, the emergency department operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Residents who require urgent care outside of those hours have to drive to Sparwood or Fernie.

“I would love to see emergency services seven days a week as we used to have – eight hours a day at least minimum – but we lost that quite a few years ago now,” said McKerracher.

“Until we have more residents and more need for the service, we will not get more services.”

Just Posted

Elk Valley mines boost overall Teck production

Fording River, Elkview achieve record fourth quarter; Fording, Greenhills have bumper year

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Local DJ to take stage at Fernie Stoke Fest

Jenn Johnson - aka Jenn Frost - confirmed as closing act at Fernie Stoke Fest on April 9

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Kootenay man dies in crash near Sparwood

Accident occurred last night east of Sparwood, RCMP appealing for witnesses

POLL: Are Wildlife Detection Systems in the Elk Valley working?

In 2016, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) installed two wildlife… Continue reading

Fernie Ghostriders face defeat during away weekend

Fans encouraged to wear white for first playoffs game at Fernie Memorial Arena, February 26

Wife remembers B.C. man killed in possible case of mistaken identity

Rex Gill was in Kamloops working to support his family after oilfield job dried up

New report calls for regulated heroin sales to curb B.C.’s overdose problem

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Millennial men least likely to have a family doctor: Statistics Canada

Report found more women have primary care physicians, compared with men

Kootenay East MLA reacts to B.C. budget

Tom Shypitka has mixed reaction to plan put forward by the provincial government

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

Most Read