Update: Princeton without emergency care

Residents in Princeton will be without an emergency department today.

The Princeton General Hospital Emergency Department is closed from 8 a.m. Monday, September 5 to 8 a.m. Tuesday, September 6, due to physician availability.

The mayor of Princeton, Randy Mclean, says this is the third or fourth time the hospital has closed the emergency department this year. However, in life threatening situations the emergency department has always been available.

“This time there is no life threatening injury coverage and this is inexcusable. On a long weekend to have no emergency department and no life threatening coverage, this is unacceptable. ”

Interior Health did confirm that situations requiring life threatening services will not be available today and that if an emergency situation occurs people should call 9-1-1.

Mclean says his phone has been ringing off the hook since information was released stating the hospital will not open its doors for a life threatening situation.

“This is the first time I can remember that the hospital has closed the emergency department on a long weekend, with highway traffic the way it is, this is really scary.”

Air ambulances will be available, but as Mclean points out, that means transporting a patient to the hospital in Penticton approximately 113 kilometres away.

For other non- emergency matters Interior Health asks that residents of Princeton also use the Penticton hospital.

“Penticton is an hour and a half away and that is a pretty serious situation to ask people to drive out there.”

Mclean says he thinks Interior Health did not do a proper job of informing the residents of Princeton that they would be without life threatening care on a long weekend.

“We had a locum coverage doctor who was supposed to be here, but at the last minute had to cancel.  Interior Health needs to have a contingency for these types of cases so that this type of thing doesn’t take place, especially on a long weekend.”

Community Integrated Health Services Administrator Susan Brown says there are a limited number of physicians in the community of Princeton and that Interior Health is working with locums to provide additional coverage.

“For this long weekend we ran into a very unexpected situation for us and for the physician. It was very short term notice and as a result we had to close the emergency department today.”

First thing tomorrow morning, Mclean says he will be taking this issue up with Interior Health.

“We need to get some answers because this can’t happen, it just can’t happen.”

Brown says closing the emergency department on a long weekend is unusual   but that it was necessary because there was no physician.

“It was very late yesterday that we found this information out and we had to put out a contingency plan at that time. We did not have any advanced notice in this situation.”

Brown says Interior Health has been working with the town of Princeton on recruitment and retention for quite some time.

“ We are working in a collaborative way to try and resolve this situation. We will also be assessing our coverage on an  ongoing basis for the immediate future to ensure we have coverage to maintain the emergency department.”

Starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning there will be a physician on call and the emergency department will be  open.


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