Interior Health has announced 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 25 hours from 7 a.m. Monday, March 13 to 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 14, and comes just two days after the emergency department’s last day-long closure.

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,” said 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. He added that he believes working with Interior Health Authority and the provincial health ministry is the fasted way to a fix for Merritt’s healthcare woes.

This is the ER’s seventh closure since the beginning of the year. The most recent closure was from March 10 to 11, with the department operating for just one day before once again being shuttered.