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UPDATED: Interior Health switches gears on service changes to Slocan Community Health Centre

Effective Feb. 1, 2018, the emergency department will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (closed on statutory holidays).

Interior Health is backtracking on its decision to curtail emergency department hours at the Slocan Community Health Centre (SCHC) a media release said Thursday.

IH said its delaying any formal changes pending additional recruitment efforts and further discussions on a long-term service model that will meet local health care needs — meaning the emergency department in New Denver will remain open 24/7.

However, the recent decision is contingent on physician availability.

Wednesday IH said Effective Feb. 1, 2018, the emergency department will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (closed on statutory holidays).

“While we continue to face significant physician staffing challenges, elected officials and representatives from the community were clear in our discussions yesterday that they felt more time was needed to prepare for a change to current emergency department services,” said Karen Bloemink, executive director IH-East, Hospitals and Communities Integrated Services in a media release.

“Based on that feedback, we will do everything possible to keep the emergency department open while additional discussions take place in the months ahead.”

Interior Health said with only one permanent physician in place, there may still be temporary interruptions to emergency department services at SCHC.

IH said it will advise the community in advance if the emergency department will be temporarily closed due to limited physician staffing.

Interior Health will continue to work closely with BC Emergency Health Services to ensure residents in the Slocan Valley have access to timely emergency care at alternate sites during potential interruptions to normal 24/7 emergency department service.

IH said it will also continue to meet regularly with community representatives on recruitment for new physicians and on ways to provide the best possible health services to local residents.

Changes coming to Slocan Community Health Centre

Interior Health is advising residents in the New Denver area of a change to the emergency department hours at Slocan Community Health Centre (SCHC) starting February 1, 2018.

Interior Health said the decision is due to the continued challenge to recruit new physicians to New Denver.  Effective Feb. 1, 2018, the emergency department will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (closed on statutory holidays).

“We have been working with our partners in the community and will continue to collaborate to support ongoing access to primary care in New Denver,” says Karen Bloemink, Executive Director IH - East, Hospitals and Communities Integrated Services.

“The reality is, we cannot sustain 24/7 emergency department services and, if we continue as we are now, we risk losing our ability to provide ongoing primary care that will meet the majority of health care needs for local residents.”

"Interior Health continues to support the recruitment of physicians who are committed to New Denver, and who are interested in providing consistent services to their community,“ Bloemink adds.

To support local residents, BC Emergency Health Services will be providing additional ambulance coverage in New Denver. This will support 9-1-1 response and ensure patients can be transferred to alternate facilities for care as required.

After Jan. 31, patients requiring emergency care outside of new weekday emergency department hours
should:

  • In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1.
  • Visit the emergency department at Arrow Lakes Hospital in Nakusp (open 24/7).
  • Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 (24 hour service) if you are unsure about your need to go to the emergency department.

Interior Health said they have been recruiting for new physicians for approximately eight months; however, there have been no applicants.

IH said one of the barriers in recruiting doctors for the region has been requiring them to cover emergency department services overnight and on weekends. By making this change at the SCHC, it is hoped that physician recruitment efforts will be successful.

"Our priority is to ensure residents can access a permanent physician who they see regularly; a physician who is familiar with their history and their ongoing health care needs,” says Bloemink.