Once again, the South Okanagan General Hospital emergency room will experience a brief closure due to limited physician availability.
Emergency services will be unavailable from 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The closures are an ongoing pattern as the hospital struggles to consistently staff its ER.
A provincial government commitment of $7.5 million for the communities of Merritt, Oliver/Osoyoos, Salmon Arm and surrounding communities to address physician shortages was announced in October, and marks a move away from the “fee for service” model to the Alternative Payment Plan scheme, in an effort to attract more doctors.
The impact from that has seemingly not yet arrived, as November saw multiple ER closures and December is starting off with shuttered doors.
"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," reads a press release issued Friday from Interior Health.
"Anyone unsure whether an emergency room visit is warranted can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or visit www.HealthLinkBC.ca for non-emergency health information from nurses, dietitians and pharmacists 24 hours a day, seven days per week."