Emergency room at Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt, B.C., temporarily closed

The emergency department in the Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt, B.C. File

Merritt, B.C., residents in need of emergency care will have to travel to Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, an approximately 90-minute drive, after Interior Health announced the emergency room at the Nicola Valley Hospital will be closed for 24 hours.

“People in the community who need life-threatening emergency care should always call 911 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility,” Interior Health said in a press release issued Saturday.

The closure is in effect from Sunday at 8 a.m. until Monday at 8 a.m. The reason for the disruption is an unexpected limited availability of physicians. Interior Health says all other in-patient services will continue as normal.

Click to play video: 'Merritt mayor taking action against province amid ER closures'
Merritt mayor taking action against province amid ER closures

The emergency department in Merritt is normally open 24/7, but the facility has already seen four ER closures in the month of October alone. On Oct. 1, the City of Merritt said it would be withholding tax money from the provincial government as a result of continued ER shutdowns.

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“We pay this every year at the beginning of every year,” Merrit mayor Michael Goetz said. “For 2023, we already paid, but for 2024 we will recalculate the 365 days of the year that we pay our taxes and then we will pull back the number of days we were closed because it was a service we didn’t get, or I would expect the government would credit us coming into the next year.”

Emergency rooms in Keremeos, Oliver and New Denver have also had to temporarily close their emergency rooms over this weekend.

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