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Castlegar emergency room closed Sept. 10 due to doctor shortage

Care available at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail or Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson
The emergency room at the Castlegar Community Health Centre will be closed Sept. 10. File photo.

The emergency department at Castlegar & District Community Health Centre was closed on Sunday for the second weekend in a row.

Interior Health says the emergency department was closed all day on Sunday, Sept. 10 due to “limited physician availability.”

Patients were advised to access care at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, or Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson.

Services resumed at 8 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 11.

The closures follow a string of closures across Interior Health including the Boundary District Hospital’s emergency room (Aug. 19), Oliver’s emergency room (Sept. 4) and the Slocan Community Health Centre’s emergency room (Aug. 31, Sept. 9 and 12). IH says the cause of the closures is doctor or nurse shortages.

Both of the recent closures were announced on short notice. The Sept. 3 public announcement came after the closure had already started and the Sept. 11 announcement came at 6:50 p.m. on the evening before the closure began.

Interior Health told Castlegar News that it understands the importance of stable emergency services to communities across the region.

“Many of our service interruptions can happen last minute due to staff and physician illness or other unforeseen circumstances at locations with limited staffing. In those cases, it can be difficult to fill that shift on short notice.”

IH says changes to normal service are done as a last resort after all other options to find staff are exhausted.

“Through past experiences we recognize that people will often step up at the last minute which prevents a closure,” explains IH. “We do everything possible to avoid interruptions to normal services and make those difficult decisions based on patient and staff safety.”

People who need life-threatening emergency care (i.e., chest pains, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding) should always call 911 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility, whether the emergency room is open or not.

Anyone unsure whether an emergency room visit is warranted can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or visit for non-emergency health information from nurses, dietitians and pharmacists 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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