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Kelowna General Hospital closes two operating rooms as staff shortage sets in

FILE. Kelowna General Hospital. Global News

Interior Health has been hard hit by the exodus of 1,018 employees who were put on unpaid leave after not getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

Kelowna General Hospital has reduced two operating rooms this week to compensate for staff who did not meet vaccination requirements and are now on unpaid leave, Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a Monday press conference.

“This will improve next week with just one operating room reduced and then we hope in two weeks, the situation will improve further,” Dix said.

Read more: Unvaccinated nurses open wellness centre in Kamloops, B.C.

Non-urgent eye care procedures in Kelowna’s eye care centre have also been postponed in order to respond to critical care surge planning needs.

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COVID-19: breakdown of vaccinated versus unvaccinated in B.C. ICUs – Oct 31, 2021

Keremeos has reduced its emergency room operation hours and similarly, in Kamloops, at Royal Inland Hospital, a number of inpatient services surgeries have been postponed.

Interior Health has the largest share of the 3,325 health-care workers that have been put on leave due to vaccination requirements.

That said, there has been some improvement when it comes to the vaccination rates of Interior Health employees.

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Documentary follows impact of the pandemic on B.C. care homes – Oct 30, 2021

When the vaccine mandates came into effect last week, Interior Health had seven per cent of its workforce unvaccinated. As of midnight Sunday, Dix said that number changed to five per cent.

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It’s still the highest proportion of unvaccinated workers in B.C., despite the improvement.

Read more: Novavax COVID-19 vaccine submitted for regulatory approval to Health Canada

Dix highlighted that this means 95 per cent, or 19 out of 20,  health-care workers have chosen to get vaccinated.

“The impact on health care when you have 1,018 workers — albeit out of 20,430 — not vaccinated is significant, and we have to make adjustments for that and we’re making those adjustments.”

Test positivity rates have also improved in Interior Health, he pointed out.

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“We’ve seen the actions that many Interior communities have taken, from Kelowna to Kamloops to Castlegar to Cranbrook to other communities throughout Interior Health Authority where they’ve taken a race and time,” he said.

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“Since Dr. Henry put the Interior Health orders in place, we reduced test positivity from 14 to 15 per cent, when the orders came in, to five to six per cent today, so progress is being made and the level of vaccination is very high.”

 

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