June 17, 2017 12:32 am

‘It’s unacceptable’: Oliver residents lament temporary ER closure

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Osoyoos and Oliver area residents are criticizing the temporary closure of the South Okanagan General Hospital’s emergency department, scheduled for 6pm Friday to 8am Saturday.

“I personally think it’s ridiculous that we don’t have the doctors to staff this place,” said Christen Rausch who has been to the hospital dozens of times for sports-related injuries and follow-up care.

If the 19-year-old Osoyoos resident injured herself Friday night, she’d be forced to travel up to an hour away to Penticton for acute medical care.

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“Somebody could have a heart attack in Osoyoos and be driven to the hospital, well this one is closed, now they are having to go to Penticton. What if that is too late?” Rausch asked.

Oliver mayor Ron Hovanes is disappointed with the closure.

“We’ve been offered assurances time and time and time again that they’re working towards a long-term solution to keep our emergency department open 24/7 and something seems to be failing there somewhere,” he said.

Osoyoos residents Marilyn Mulldoon and Brenda Dorosz started a local group called Residents for Healthcare to advocate for better healthcare services in their community.

“We do not need ER’s that are now you see it, now you don’t,” Mulldoon said. “If they can find the money to parachute doctors in while the election was on, why can’t we find it for this weekend?”

The group believes the hospital shouldn’t rely on local family doctors busy with their own full-time clinics to staff the ER.

“What we would like to see is doctors hired specifically for ER times,” Dorosz said.

Another reason for the shortage is because doctors have said there is more support, better services and more money to be made at Penticton Regional Hospital.

“I’ve been told that for an emergency doctor working in a small hospital such as this one, it comes with a lot of pressure when you are working by yourself and you’re not surrounded by others and their expertise,” Hovanes said.

The Interior Health Authority said it’s working with the Medical Staff Association to find a long-term solution to the staffing problem although it won’t say what those solutions may be.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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