LifeLabs announces closures, reduction in hours due to staffing shortages

LifeLabs announces closures, reduction in hours due to staffing shortages

The COVID-19 staffing crisis has led to the temporary shuttering of nearly a dozen LifeLabs locations in B.C.

Eleven LifeLabs in the province are closed, including four in Greater Victoria, located at:

  • 645 Fort St.
  • 1641 Hillside Ave.
  • 1990 Fort St.
  • 2945 Jacklin Rd.

News of the temporary closure at the Hillside Avenue location came via a sign outside, but it wasn’t a shock to people working in the medical offices inside, according to Cassandra Peltier, who works as a medical office assistant.

“It sucks because we were told that it would open back up in two weeks. But who knows if that’ll actually happen.”

Earlier the company posted a statement on its website explaining the closure.

“LifeLabs has made the difficult decision to temporarily close and/or adjust hours at select BC Patient Service Centres due to the spread of Omicron and related protocols which have resulted in severe employee impacts,” it said.

The president of the BC General Employees’ Union, Stephanie Smith, said members will be affected by the closures for several weeks.

“My understanding is from these notices that we’re received, that these closures and the hour adjustments will take place for approximately two weeks,” she said.

Smith is calling on LifeLabs to equip its members with the protections they need to stay safe.

“That means KN95 and N95 masks, ventilation. Bring back those capacity limits which were loosened,” she said.

LifeLabs staff perform a wide range of diagnostic tests including EKGs, blood tests, and COVID testing, with many clients going for regular weekly testing.

But with the closures and reduction in hours, wait times for anyone without an appointment can be up to four hours.

Erin van Zant arrived with her father at the Cedar Hill Cross Road location only to find a lengthy wait.

“We didn’t wait because the wait was too long. So we decided to not wait. It was going to be an hour-and-a-half. And that was just too long for my dad.”

The closures could potentially impact public health as well, according to Smith.

“This is a real ripple effect that affects individuals who are trying to access healthcare. And it means that those labs that are remaining open are going to be facing incredible pressures, as well as our public labs which are in hospitals,” she said.

The company says it’ll reassess the situation regarding the closures in two weeks. Details on the changes can be found on LifeLabs’ website.

WATCH: LifeLabs ‘staffing challenges’ leads to cancelled appointments, sudden closure of multiple facilities in Greater Victoria

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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