Timeline of reopening for Summerland outpatient laboratory still undetermined

Lab reopening still uncertain

After low staffing levels caused Interior Health to temporarily close the Summerland Health Centre Outpatient Laboratory in November, the outlook for a timeline on reopening remains up in the air.

Summerland Mayor Toni Boot explained that she's been working alongside MLA Dan Ashton in talks with IH and the Ministry on what is happening for the centre.

“They did say that they're looking at a temporary site or perhaps even more than one site to accommodate people in the meantime,” Boot said, with a target date hoping to have the centre reopen by mid-February.

A petition was submitted to the District expressing concern regarding the closure in mid-December with signatures from 968 people, with over 600 being Summerland residents

“The concern and we've heard this from residents here as well, the concern that we expressed is, especially this time of year, it's hard for a lot of people to have the transportation to get from Summerland to Penticton Regional Hospital to attend the lab there,” Boot said, adding it's really a significant challenge for some people in the district.

IH explained in a statement to Castanet on Thursday that the temporary closure reduces unexpected service disruptions and appointment cancellations and helps to stabilize lab services at Penticton Regional Hospital.

“We are actively looking at ways to support clients who are not able to travel for appointments and will provide an update as soon as we have more information.”

IH did not confirm a timeline on reopening the lab or setting up temporary services in the district.

“Staffing shortages for lab professionals is not new – and remains a challenge both provincially and nationally. We are continuing to actively recruit new lab professionals across Interior Health, including in the Summerland area.”

Access for lab services remains at PRH by walk-in or appointment, or at three private clinics in Penticton or Peachland through Valley Medical Labs and Okanagan Clinical Labs.

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