Short staffing will see emergency services closed at South Okanagan General Hospital Tuesday

E.R. closing once again

The South Okanagan General Hospital will once again see reduced emergency department hours due to short-staffing.

Interior Health announced Monday that on Tuesday, Oct. 3, ER services will be unavailable all day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Patient are advised to access emergency care at Penticton Regional Hospital, and in particular call 911 for life-threatening emergencies like chest pain, difficulty breathing and severe bleeding. Inpatient services will continue as normal.

Similar temporary closures took place roughly a dozen times in September alone, part of an ongoing pattern that is increasingly frustrating to local citizens and politicians.

The issue was a central topic that the Towns of Oliver and Osoyoos brought to their meeting with the Ministry of Health at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention last month in Vancouver.

The dire situation at SOGH largely stems from the fact that the shortfall in doctors was being picked up by doctors doing extra shifts out of Penticton, but for less pay than they would get in Penticton.

Hence, an "Alternative Payment Program," different than the traditional “Fee for Service” model, has been approved but has yet to be put in place.

Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen said in a September interview that “everything is connected. That's why there's no one silver bullet. There's a little bit of help here. A little bit of help there. At the end of the day, we need more people working in healthcare, and that's going to go a long way to solving a lot of the problems.”

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