Emergency departments in Merritt and Oliver deal with more closures over the weekend

Residents of two separate municipalities in B.C.’s Interior had to deal with closures to their hospital emergency departments this weekend.

Oliver’s South Okanagan General Hospital and the Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt both had limited ER hours as a result of staffing shortages, Interior Health says.

The health authority said Friday that Nicola Valley Hospital’s emergency services would be unavailable from 7 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Saturday, and South Okanagan General’s emergency services were to be closed between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Those needing ER services near Oliver were directed to go to Penticton Regional Hospital, which is a 30-minute drive north. Merritt residents were directed to go to Royal Inland Hospital in Kelowna, a 50 minute drive northeast.

South Okanagan General and Nicola Valley Hospital have had multiple ER staffing disruptions in the past couple weeks. In Sunday, emergency services at Merritt’s hospital were unavailable for the 15th times this year.

Merritt’s Mayor Michael Goetz said last week the city has done everything it can to curb the closures, but is now considering withholding tax money from the province for each day people in Merritt can’t access emergency care.

With files from Pippa Norman.

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