Staffing shortages continue to challenge B.C. Interior hospitals, highlighted by another temporary emergency department closure.
Ashcroft and area residents were advised Sunday of a temporary change to the emergency department hours at the Ashcroft Hospital and Community Health Care Centre due to limited staffing.
The emergency department will be closed overnight, resuming regular hours on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., Interior Health officials said in a news release.
Normal ER hours in Ashcroft are Friday at 6 p.m. to Monday at 8 a.m.
In the event of an emergency, Interior Health advised that residents call 911 or go to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, about an hour away, or Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt.
It’s not the first time that the department has closed due to a staffing shortage. Interior Health briefly closed the it just before Christmas, as well as in 2019 during a nursing shortage.
Just six days earlier, Interior Health announced that the Nicola Valley Hospital’s emergency department would temporarily close due to “unforeseen limited physician availability.” The ward has since reopened.
Since the start of the pandemic, the lack of hospital staff in B.C. has become more pronounced recently because of the Omicron surge.
On Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix told a news conference that nearly twice as many health workers called in sick from Jan. 3-9 compared to the same period in 2021.
That week, Dix said, in all health authorities except Island and Interior, 14,591 health-care staff called in sick with either COVID-19, similar symptoms or other illness. Last year, that number was 7,573 workers.