Despite efforts to recruit doctors and locums the Princeton General Hospital has been unable to provide consistent emergency services.
The situation became worse for Princeton residents on April 1, when one of the local doctors was no longer able to provide full emergency coverage. This means there will be more frequent Emergency Department (ED) closures, and unless Interior Health (IH) makes adjustments the closures could occur during peak periods.
As of May 1, IH will put into place an interim plan, which they believe will be the best option for residents.
Community physicians were also involved in developing the interim plan, which will need to be in place for approximately one year while longer term solutions are looked at, according to IH.
The interim plan includes:
- Full, uninterrupted ED coverage will continue to be provided during daytime, evening and weekend hours
- As of May 1st, 2012, the Emergency Department will close between midnight and 8 a.m. four nights a week, Mondays to Thursdays.
According to IH the Princeton General Hospital receives the lowest number of patients and life threatening conditions in the ED during these hours.
- Interior Health intends to install a telephone at the hospital entrance so anyone arriving at the hospital will have the ability to call 9-1-1. BCAS will continue to have ambulances stationed adjacent to the hospital.
- When the ED is closed, BC Ambulance Service will deliver patients directly to Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH) or another site that can provide a higher level of care. Patients needing life saving care will be transported to a larger centre.
- Interior Health recently established a response team (HART) based at Penticton Regional Hospital. BCAS can dispatch this team when they determine it’s best for the patient’s care. HART members are highly trained critical care nurses who respond with a BCAS basic life support team. A respiratory therapist assists as required.
- If community residents have any health concerns when the ED is closed, they should call 8-1-1 (HealthLinkBC) for health information, or call 9-1-1 for an ambulance.
IH states they recognize this situation is not ideal for residents of Princeton but assists in attracting locums to the city and acknowledges the demands placed upon the current physicians.
The goal according to IH is to have 24/7 Emergency Department coverage in Princeton.
If you live in Princeton and would like to share your comments about the current situation facing the General Hospital please email [email protected]