Staff shortage temporarily closed Merritt hospital's emergency department

Limited doctor availability closed Nicola Valley Hospital’s emergency department for much of Tuesday.

Interior Health sent out a press release saying that the Merritt-area hospital emergency department would be closed from 5:30 p.m. Tuesday until 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12 due to “unforeseen limited physician availability.”

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Interior Health noted that residents should still call 911 if emergency care is needed or visit the hospital in Kamloops or Kelowna, if need be.

Interior Health didn’t make clear what caused this doctor shortfall but staffing shortages in various areas of health care have been a topic of concern since before the pandemic. It got much worse with COVID-19.

In the latest COVID-19 update, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said another 38 people battling COVID-19 have been admitted to hospital in B.C., bringing that total to 469.

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Meanwhile, another two people are in intensive care for a total of 97 provincewide.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday there are currently three people in their 20s and one person in their 30s in intensive care with COVID-19. She said all of them are unvaccinated.

A further three people have died from the virus in the past 24 hours, which includes a person in their 30s.

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