There will be no emergency department service available at a hospital off the northern end of Vancouver Island this weekend.
On Friday, Island Health said the Cormorant Island Community Health Centre (CICHC) emergency room in Alert Bay would be closed on March 4, 5 and 6 due to a staff shortage.
Hours at the CICHC had already dropped from 24 hours to just 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily because of a staff shortage across the region.
Reducing the service hours to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. was intended to improve consistency, following repeated overnight closures because of staff shortages.
Anyone experiencing a medical emergency while the CICHC emergency room is closed is asked to call 911.
The emergency department will reopen as normal starting at 8 a.m. on March 7.
Residents can also call HealthLink BC at 811, 24 hours a day, to speak with a registered nurse for advice and to see if a trip to the emergency department is necessary.
“Island Health acknowledges this is not an ideal situation for the community and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience experienced (due to) this temporary service interruption,” said the health authority in a release Friday.
In late January, the province said “significant efforts” were underway to help manage the staff shortages at hospitals across the North Island.
Those efforts included a promise of $30 million to upgrade the Port Hardy and Port McNeill hospitals, and to expand substance-use, mental health and at-home health services in the region.
“These changes are a first and significant step to ensure reliable access to care, while the Ministry of Health works with Island Health on the many other actions underway to address health-care staffing challenges in the region,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix on Jan. 27.
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