Island Health says patients accessing urgent care services at Chemainus Health Care Centre (CHCC) will see reduced operating hours next month, including full closures on some days amid a staff shortage.
According to the health authority, limited physician availability means the urgent care centre at CHCC will be closed for 13 days in October, with 11 days seeing no change in service hours and seven days seeing reduced hours.
During this time, however, laboratory and medical imaging services at CHCC will continue as usual, Island Health says in a service notice.
Hours of operation for urgent care at CHCC are as follows:
- Oct. 1: Closed
- Oct. 2: Closed
- Oct. 3: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 4: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 5: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 6: Closed
- Oct. 7: Closed
- Oct. 8: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 9: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 10: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 11: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 12: Closed
- Oct. 13: Closed
- Oct. 14: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 15: Closed
- Oct. 16: Closed
- Oct. 17: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 18: Closed
- Oct. 19: Closed
- Oct. 20: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 21: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 22: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 23: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 24: Closed
- Oct. 25: Closed
- Oct. 26: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 27: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 28: No change, open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Oct. 29: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 30: Open 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Oct. 31: Closed
In its notice, Island Health encourages Cowichan residents in need of care during a closure to head to Ladysmith Community Health Centre, which is 15 kilometres away, or Cowichan District Hospital, which is 20 km away.
“Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 or, if possible, proceed to the nearest emergency department,” the health authority said.
“If you are unsure if you are experiencing a medical situation requiring a visit to an emergency department, confidential health information and advice from a registered nurse is available toll-free, 24/7 by calling HealthLink BC at 811.”
When urgent care at CHCC is not open, Island Health plans to allocate additional resources to Ladysmith and Cowichan to support staff and patients.
The health authority also says it’s continuing to work to secure physician coverage at CHCC for October, which may result in additional changes to its hours of operation.
“Island Health acknowledges this is not an ideal situation for the community and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience experienced by this temporary service interruption,” it added.
But it’s a similar story at other Island Health facilities, particularly on north Vancouver Island where staff shortages have plagued local emergency departments in recent months.
For example, emergency departments at hospitals in Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Alert Bay have faced repeated closures, with the Cormorant Island Community Health Centre ER closure, originally expected to end Aug. 16, extended to Sept. 30.
Island Health recently launched a task force of representatives to ensure “reliable and predictable” emergency and acute care services for patients, as elected officials keep calling on the province to fix hospital staffing shortages.