New Denver emergency ward to remain 24/7

Interior Health says it’s postponing changes to operating hours.

One day after announcing it was limiting hours for New Denver’s emergency ward, Interior Health says it will keep the facility operating 24/7 after all.

Interior Health announced late Thursday it was delaying its plan to change the 24/7 service at the Slocan Community Health Care Centre to a 9-5, Monday to Friday schedule.

The change was to take effect Feb. 1.

READ MORE: New Denver losing 24/7 emergency care

IH says the change is being postponed until the spring, while officials try to find more doctors for the community. They also plan to hold more talks on a long-term service model that will meet local health care needs.

The postponement, however, will depend on physician availability, says an Interior Health representative.

“While we continue to face significant physician staffing challenges, elected officials and representatives from the community were clear in our discussions yesterday that they felt more time was needed to prepare for a change to current emergency department services,” says Karen Bloemink, executive director IH-East, Hospitals and Communities Integrated Services. “Based on that feedback, we will do everything possible to keep the emergency department open while additional discussions take place in the months ahead.”

With only one permanent physician in place, IH warns there may still be temporary interruptions to emergency department services at the New Denver facility. Interior Health says it will let the community know if any temporary closures are necessary due to limited physician staffing.

Right now the community has only one permanent doctor, who has been supported by locums since September. IH said that model was unsustainable, and that’s why it made the decision to reduce hours at the SCHC’s emergency department.

Interior Health says it will continue to work closely with BC Emergency Health Services to ensure residents in the Slocan Valley have access to timely emergency care at alternate sites during potential interruptions to normal 24/7 emergency department service.

Bloemink says Interior Health will also continue to meet regularly with community representatives on recruitment for new physicians and on ways to provide the best possible health services to local residents.

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