Noren Essa was scheduled to have a heart monitor removed at the LifeLabs on Cedar Hill Cross Road in Saanich on Friday morning.
Essa’s appointment was scheduled for 11 a.m., but when she arrived she was surprised to find out it wasn’t open.
“I was supposed to be there around 11 o’clock to have them remove the device I went down and the LifeLabs was actually closed,” she says.
Essa says her heart monitor was inserted on Thursday and that she was given specific instruction to return LifeLabs the next day to have it removed. She says she double-checked the LifeLabs hours of operation and never received any calls or messages in regards to the sudden closure.
“[I was] definitely concerned around what do I do now,” said Essa. “They were very explicit around not being longer than 24 hours.”
LifeLabs is a privately owned company and popular medical testing service with over a dozen locations on southern Vancouver Island. Many residents rely on LifeLabs for a variety of services including heart monitoring and general blood tests.
Essa says as others arrived for appointments that Friday, a lineup started to form with many others just as confused as her. She says she decided to call LifeLabs but was put on hold for nearly an hour.
So, while waiting on hold, Essa decided to post her story online to see if anyone else in the region could shed some light on the issue. She quickly learned that she was far from alone.
“It immediately started to get people commenting,” said Essa. “A lot of people saying they’ve been in a similar situation.”
It turns out that LifeLabs, like so many other businesses across Vancouver Island, is experiencing a labour shortage, which has led to unplanned closures of some locations in Greater Victoria.
“We are experiencing higher retirement rates and greater turnover due to the impacts of COVID-19. This has created shortages that have had a significant impact on local LifeLabs teams and resulted in unplanned closures in the Victoria area recently,” LifeLabs told CHEK News in a statement.
The labour shortage has hit LifeLabs so hard that the company says they are temporarily closing two Greater Victoria locations — their Westshore Town Centre location on 2945 Jacklin Rd. in Langford and their location on 1990 Fort St. in Oak Bay — next week.
“LifeLabs has made the difficult decision to temporarily close two locations in Victoria starting next week. Staff from these locations will be redeployed to ensure consistent and reliable service for our customers,” the company said in its statement to CHEK News.
LifeLabs is hoping to reopen those locations in early 2022 and says they are actively recruiting medical lab assistants.
Essa says she received an apology from LifeLabs on Saturday and was able to have her heart monitor removed at a different location.
Another option in lieu of LifeLabs is through Island Health.
For information on their Medical Laboratory locations, click here.