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Emergency department at Clearwater, B.C. hospital closed for third time this month

The emergency department at the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater, B.C. will be closed until 7 p.m. on Mon. July 11, 2022. Twitter/Interior Health

The emergency department at the Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater, B.C. is temporarily closed for a third time this month.

The department shut down Sunday morning. It was initially scheduled to reopen Monday at 7 a.m., but late on Sunday, Interior Health announced the closure would extend until Monday at 7 p.m.

In a tweet, the health authority said it “regrets this temporary change.”

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Read more: Clearwater ER closed overnight due to staffing

In an emergency, patients are asked to call 911 or visit the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

The Clearwater emergency department also closed between 8 a.m. on July 2 and 8 a.m. on July 3, and between 6 p.m. on July 7 and 7 a.m. on July 8.

“Human resource challenges are occurring in every sector right now and health care is not immune to this,” reads a Monday statement from Interior Health.

“We recognize that interruptions to emergency department services are concerning to the community and Interior Health medical and site leadership in Clearwater are dedicated to doing everything possible to maintain full coverage whenever possible.”

The health authority expressed thanks to all health-care professionals who have stepped in to cover emergency department shifts.

 

Click to play video: 'Staffing shortages force more hospital diversions and service reductions on Vancouver Island'
Staffing shortages force more hospital diversions and service reductions on Vancouver Island

According to Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell, the local emergency department has closed 21 times since the start of the year.

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In a thread of tweets, he proposed several ways to combat the staffing shortages that contribute to closures, such as offering incentives to recently retired health-care professionals to work one or two days a week. He also suggested subsidized housing for temporary staff in rural B.C., more flexible education options for nurses and more flexible payment models for doctors.

In an interview on CKNW’s The Mike Smyth Show, Blackwell described a “rotating door” of lab and x-ray technicians in his community with high levels of burnout, coupled with a housing crisis.

“When you’re in a small town, if you’re the lab tech, you’re the only one, so you’re on 24-hour call,” he explained. “There’s a quality of life issue that’s happening for these people, and a burnout rate that’s probably happening at a faster rate than you’d find it in a city.”

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Canada’s premiers are currently meeting in Victoria and health-care is expected to top their agenda.

 

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