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Staff shortage forces overnight closure of Merritt, B.C. hospital ER

The closure is due to limited physician availability. Google Maps

The emergency room at Merritt, B.C.’s hospital will be closed overnight, due to “unexpected limited staff availability,” Interior Health said Tuesday.

The last-minute notice, posted to social media around 3:30 p.m., said the Nicola Valley Hospital ER would be closed from 6 p.m. Tuesday until 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The closure means residents of the city and the Nicola Valley will need to go to Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, about an hour away, or Kelowna General hospital, about 90 minutes away, in an emergency.

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“During this time, all other inpatient services will continue as normal at Nicola Valley Hospital,” Interior Health said in the notice.

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“People in the community who need life-threatening emergency care (i.e., chest pains, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding) should always call 911 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility.”

The service interruption is the latest in a series of closures plaguing rural and remote hospitals across B.C. amid chronic nurse and doctor shortages.

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