Port McNeill Hospital emergency department to once again close over weekend

Port McNeill Hospital emergency department to once again close over weekend

Island Health is warning that Port McNeill Hospital’s emergency department will be closed over the weekend.

This is the seventh time the hospital has had closures or service reductions so far this year, as the department faces staffing shortages.

The department will close at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 until 7 a.m. Sept. 18 due to a staff shortage.

All other inpatient services will continue as normal at the hospital.

If someone is experiencing a medical emergency, Island Health recommends calling 911 where there are protocols in place for the person to be brought to an open hospital, or proceed to the Port Hardy Hospital if possible.

If you’re uncertain if the symptoms are a medical emergency, the 811 hotline is available for information.

“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,” Island Health says in a news release.

Recently, mayors in rural B.C. communities called on the province to fix staffing shortages at hospitals, as rural hospitals are often required to close.

Port McNeill’s mayor, Gaby Wickstrom, was one calling on the province to implement measures.

Relying on financial incentives to attract professionals to small communities isn’t a sustainable solution, Wickstrom said.

“Otherwise, we’re continuing to poach from one another, it’s a race to the bottom, where we all try to outbid each other,” she said to Canada’s National Observer on Sept. 5. “It’s not going to be a monetary solution because that isn’t equitable and fair for everyone.”

Island Health put together a task force to address staffing shortages on the North Island in August.

“There has also been substantial effort to maintain services and provide high quality, culturally safe patient care during this difficult time. But we know additional collaborative and innovative approaches that support the doctors and health care providers who work in the region providing high quality, safe patient care, are necessary,” said Island Health on Aug. 26.

On July 25, BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands told Canadian Press that the health care system is collapsing in rural communities, while the vice-president of the BC Nurses’ Union says the clsoures reflect a problem affecting communities across the province.

Residents of small Island communities like Port McNeill and Port Hardy might opt to travel more often to hospitals in larger centres for care, like Campbell River or Comox Valley, Adriane Gear said.

“But those hospitals are already at a breaking point,” she said on July 25.

With files from Canada’s National Observer’s Rochelle Baker, CHEK’s Mary Griffin

READ MORE FROM SEPT. 9: Port McNeill emergency room faces weekend closure due to staff shortage

READ MORE FROM AUG. 5: Port McNeill and Port Hardy Hospital to experience service interruptions over weekend

READ MORE FROM JULY 31: Emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital temporarily closes due to staffing issues

READ MORE FROM JULY 15: Port McNeill Hospital’s emergency room briefly closing due to staffing shortages

READ MORE FROM MAY 13: Island Health warns of three day emergency department closure at Port McNeill Hospital

READ MORE FROM MARCH 3: Physician shortage leads to service disruption at Port McNeill Hospital, Island Health says

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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