Interior Health is announcing that Merritt’s emergency room will once again be temporarily closed due to a shortage of available doctors. The diversion will see the Nicola Valley Hospital’s ER close for 24 hours from 8 a.m. Friday, March 10 to 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 11.

While inpatient services will continue at the hospital during this time, emergency services will be unavailable, and the health authority says patients can access care at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital.

They added that those in need of life-threatening emergency care, such as chest pains, difficulty breathing, and severe bleeding, should always call 9-1-1 for transport to the nearest available facility. Those unsure whether or not a trip to the ER is warranted should speak to HealthLinkBC for non-emergency health information.

“Anyone unsure whether an emergency room visit is warranted can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or visit HealthLinkBC for non-emergency health information from nurses, dietitians and pharmacists 24 hours a day, seven days per week,” reads a release by Interior Health.

Merritt Mayor Mike Goetz has previously called on the provincial government to end its vaccination mandate for healthcare workers immediately as part of efforts to address issues in rural healthcare, and recently called for an investigation by Interior Health and the provincial health ministry into the cause of the many ER closures Merritt has faced in recent months.

This is the ER’s sixth closure since the beginning of the year. The most recent closure was from February 21 to 22, and came less than one week following the previous service diversion.