The Elkford Health Centre emergency department will be temporarily closed until further notice, as of September 29th.
The closure is due to limited staffing availability, Interior Health (IH) said in a press release – adding that they are continuing to recruit additional permanent and casual staff and physicians to Elkford.
The Elkford Health Centre will remain open for scheduled primary appointments, lab and X-ray services.
IH says that people should take note of the following if they require emergency care:
In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1.
Visit the emergency department at one of the following facilities:
Sparwood Health Centre – open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Elk Valley Hospital in Fernie – 24-hour service
Call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 (24-hour service) if you are unsure about your need to go to the emergency department.
Interior Health says that they will have updates on recruitment as soon as new information is available.
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka released an official statement on the closure, calling it “unacceptable”.
“Many things hamper our healthcare services such as the province wide labour shortage but these issues are not new,” Shypitka said in an online post. “Government needs to stop the excuses and find solutions. I will be asking the Minister for some of his time next week to discuss some solutions I have in mind.”
He adds that this closure forces residents to travel to other communities in order to find care.
“We are seeing an increasing number of hospitals around B.C. having to close their doors, simply because they cannot find enough staff to keep them open, and the same thing is happening here in the Kootenays,” said Shypitka. “The Elkford Hospital is closing its emergency department with no end date in sight, leaving the surrounding community without access to emergency medical care — and this isn’t the first time. The Elkford Hospital ER was closed for a week this past July, for five months between April and August 2020, and even periodically in the years before COVID-19. It’s time for real action from John Horgan and the NDP to bring this chronic staffing shortage to an end.”
Shypitka adds that recent other emergency department closures across the province include Fort St. John Hospital, the Barriere Health Centre, the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater, and the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened staffing issues that have persisted at Elkford Hospital for years,” said Shypitka in his statement. “The NDP knew there was a problem and did nothing to ensure appropriate staffing levels, leading to shortages and closures at a time when access to health care is more important than ever.
“My constituents, and all British Columbians, deserve to know that adequate medical care will be available to them in an emergency but for the residents of Elkford, that is no longer the case… Our health care systems cannot afford to wait years to see results.”
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