Once again Interior Health has announced that the emergency department in the Oliver Hospital was closed from 6 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday July 6/7. If you are unfortunate enough to have a serious medical condition, such as a heart attack or stroke, during that time the paramedics have no option but to transport you to emergency at the Penticton Hospital.
In spite of Interior Health’s previous commitments to keep the Oliver emergency department open, and that they are presently engaged in a much needed and expensive update, the problem of short staffing remains a seemingly unobtainable goal. The doctors and Interior Health blame each other for the standoff of staffing which puts all of the many thousands of people living in the Oliver-Osoyoos area at risk.
In addition to the demographics of older-than-average residents in our two towns, there is now an influx of many more thousands of tourists that often incur serious injuries that can be life threatening. The mayors and councils of both communities have tried their level best to have this problem resolved. The provincial government recognizes the great value of tourism to our economies by contributing substantial dollars to promote tourism and yet they can’t seem to solve this continuing serious problem of emergency room staffing. It’s time the two sides, with the assistance of Victoria, sit down and solve this on going problem.
The weak response by Interior Health for the closure is “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.” Losing one’s life as a result of delayed medical treatment seems, to me, to be more than an inconvenience, especially when the problem can be solved.