A health center in a small British Columbia community that had to reduce hours of operation due to staffing issues will resume 24-hour emergency care, the local health authority has announced.
Interior Health President Susan Brown said two more registered nurses have been recruited to allow Slocan Community Health Center to resume normal operations in its emergency department.
“I would like to thank the community for their support as we managed Omicron-related staffing challenges earlier this year and reduced emergency departments to maintain safe patient care,” Brown said in a statement. press release released on Monday.
Interior Health announced in January that the center’s emergency department would only operate 12 hours a day — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. — due to a staff shortage.
Health care across British Columbia has been impacted by extra workloads and staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many small town health centers to reduce hours or temporarily close. Additionally, some healthcare workers in British Columbia are no longer working due to a vaccination mandate, although the mandate does not apply to all healthcare workers and it is unclear whether the restrictions impacted recent closures at Interior Health.
Less than two weeks ago, limited and unplanned staffing capacity led to an overnight closure at the Clearwater emergency department. Days earlier, Merritt and area residents had been notified that the emergency department at Nicola Valley Hospital was set to close overnight due to staffing issues.
Nurses have previously told CTV News that they now work understaffed almost all the time.
“The nurses are exhausted. They are exhausted. They need better mental health supports,” said BC Nurses’ Union President Adriane Gear earlier this year. “We are not heroes. Nurses are human.”
Provincial health officials have repeatedly said they are working to increase recruitment into the healthcare sector and the University of British Columbia School of Nursing said it has seen applications increase during the pandemic.
Denver’s new mayor, Leonard Casey, said he’s happy that 24/7 service is resuming in his community.
“Having access to 24/7 care enables our community to seek medical care quickly, regardless of the challenges posed by geographic location and limited pre-hospital services,” he said in a statement.