Many Clearwater and area residents were taken aback last week when Interior Health announced that physician services in the emergency department at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital were to be limited during the overnight hours from July 4 – July 7.
Although there have been similar cutbacks at other hospitals in rural B.C., it has not been common practice at DHMH.
While the emergency department remained open, residents were advised to note the following:
• From 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., only patients with critical or urgent needs would be seen by a physician
• Patients with less urgent needs, depending on their situation, may either be transferred to a nearby hospital for care, or offered alternate options.
• All patients would be assessed as usual by trained nurses.
People were advised to call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for confidential health information and advice from a registered nurse if unsure what services they needed.
Regular emergency department operations resumed Friday, July 7 at 9 a.m.
With the departure of one full-time physician last winter and two more half-time physicians this spring, Clearwater is once again down to just one full-time physician.
More full-time physicians are expected in Clearwater this fall. In the meantime, Dr. Helmcken Hospital is making do with locums (doctors on temporary assignment) to fill in when needed.