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Elkford emergency situation not acceptable: Shypitka

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka used the one-year anniversary of the closure of the ER to blast the NDP
The Elkford Health Centre emergency department remains closed.

The BC Liberals have heaped the blame for Elkford’s lack of an emergency department on the doorstep of the NDP Government.

“Winter is approaching, the roads will soon become unpredictable, and still this NDP government thinks it’s okay for patients in medical distress to have to be medically transported 45 minutes on a good day to the nearest ER in Fernie,” said East Kootenay MLA, Tom Shypitka in a BC Liberal release, a year after the emergency department was closed in Elkford.

“It’s unacceptable. The only other option is Sparwood — a 30-minute transfer when roads are clear — which only offers emergency medical treatment during limited hours at its health centre. The people of Elkford deserve timely access to urgent medical care, but they’re not getting it.”

The emergency department at the Elkford Medical Centre was closed on September 29, 2021 due to limited staffing availability. The center remained open for scheduled appointments, lab and x-ray services, but residents were directed to call 911, or travel to Sparwood or Fernie if they needed emergency care. The main hospital for the valley is in Fernie, which is more than 60km to the south along Hwy 43 and 3.

Interior Health said at the time that they were working to recruit, but a year on, the department remains closed.

“Where is the recruitment effort to bring in more health care workers?”, asked Shypitka, targeting the government.

“Today, after two terms of being in office, the NDP is finally announcing their long-awaited health human resources strategy. This could have been done a lot sooner but thanks to NDP delays, the health care situation in Elkford and other rural communities has continued to deteriorate.”

Healthcare is top of mind for the community, with election candidates for the upcoming general election all touching on healthcare as a key priority at a recent all-candidate forum.

“I will continue to press this government to reopen the ER in Elkford and help residents access the vital services they need, when they need them. However, I won’t hold my breath, as the NDP continue to show they are incapable of resolving the big concerns people care about.”

READ MORE: Elkford candidates run the gauntlet of voter questions
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