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UPDATED: New Denver ER again reduced to daytime operation

Hours at the emergency department at Slocan Community Health Centre in New Denver are once again down to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Interior Heath announced today a “temporary change” due to “staffing challenges.” The health authority says it is continuing to recruit for registered nursing positions.

The ER reopened to 24/7 service in May after recruiting two more RNs. Prior to that it had been reduced to daytime hours only since January.

Lannon de Best, the executive director for clinical operations in the Kootenay Boundary, explained that normally there are seven nursing positions in New Denver, but they lost someone several weeks ago to a different job in the community. A second staff member recently left as well, making it difficult to keep round-the-clock service going.

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In the summer, vacation leaves make staffing even more challenging, he added.

Their goal is operate with all seven positions filled, he said, but he could not predict how long that would take.

“Unfortunately, no. We don’t have a time frame for how long this might be in place. It is contingent on our ability to recruit. The positions are posted on all of our recruiting systems. We’re eager to welcome folks to the team as soon as we can.”

Slocan Valley residents with overnight emergency issues are being told to call 911, visit Arrow Lakes Hospital in Nakusp, or call HealthLink BC at 811 if you’re unsure if you need emergency care.

“We appreciate this has an impact on the community,” de Best said. “We appreciate their patience as we continue to recruit.”

New Denver mayor Leonard Casley called the reduction “incredibly unfortunate.”

“How are we to trust that IHA is truly facing staffing challenges and actively recruiting staff when their five levels of management couldn’t even be bothered to update their website indicating the site had reopened from the last service reduction?” he asked.

Casley said he is “disappointed and utterly disgusted” at “rural BC being deemed as second-class citizens regarding health care in this province. We deserve better than having access to essential services cut at the disposal of IHA and the ministry operations.”

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