By Michael Potestio/Castanet

The BC Nurses Union is holding a rally outside the Nicola Valley Hospital on Wednesday, calling on Interior Health to do a better job attracting health care workers to Merritt.

Nurses and members of the public are expected to rally behind the hospital over the linch hour from noon to 1 p.m. to demand IH address systemic staffing challenges that have plagued the hospital for months, resulting in temporary closures of the emergency department.

The hospital’s emergency room was closed 19 times in 2023, and has already been shuttered twice in 2024.

According to a press release from the nurses union, IH has repeatedly ignored their calls to develop an action plan to address recruitment and retention challenges at the Nicola Valley Hospital.

“The nurses in Merritt don’t feel heard,” BCNU president Adriane Gear said. “This is a vibrant, growing community and nurses want to ensure the people who live here have access to the health care they deserve. Interior Health must develop a plan to attract new nurses to the area and keep the nurses here from leaving.”

The rally will take place in the community garden located directly behind Nicola Valley Hospital. Drivers and pedestrians may experience disruptions from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.