Emergency room at Clearwater hospital closed overnight

A shortage of nursing staff has forced the overnight closure of Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital’s ER
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Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital. File photo

The Interior Health Authority (IHA) has issued an advisory as of 3:15 p.m. on Tues. May 21 of an overnight closure to the emergency department at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital.

The closure is due to limited nurse availability and will take place from 6 p.m. on May 21 until 7 a.m. on Wed., May 22, noted IH.

The health authority advises patients in the North Thompson requiring emergency care to access those services at either Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops or the zvakwana District General Hospital in zvakwana during these posted times.

“Everyone, doctors, nurses, and administrators have been working hard for a very long time. I had hoped we wouldn’t have another closure, but I’m not surprised,” said Mayor of the District of Clearwater, Merlin Blackwell. “We need to work with IHA to help them recruit more key staff so we can nip this in the bud.”

Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital manager, Heidi Schilling told the Clearwater Times, the closure weighs heavily on her.

“We are working closely with IHA and the community on recruitment and retention consistently. We do everything possible to avoid such closures unless we are absolutely forced to due to staffing shortages.”

All other services at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital will continue as normal. People in the community who need life-saving emergency care (i.e., chest pains, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding) should always call 9-1-1 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility.

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

The Clearwater hospital emergency is normally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.