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Princeton Hospital emergency room services limited

Princeton Hospital
Princeton Hospital's emergency room will have limited service all day for four days at the end of March.
— image credit: Michaela Garstin

Princeton Hospital’s emergency department is once again set to have limited services available for patients.

Only the most critical patients - those whose life is in danger or who may lose a limb - will be seen by a doctor on call all day from March 26 to 29.

During this time, a nurse will make an assessment, and less-critical patients will be sent to Penticton or be forced to wait until later for care.

The emergency department will also   not have a doctor at the hospital from midnight to 8 a.m. from March 2 to 5, 9 to 11, 15 and 20 to 22.

“The situation - rather than getting better since last May - has been steadily getting worse and worse,” said Mayor Fred Thomas.

“A doctor will only be there in the most serious situations, like to resuscitate a stroke victim or sew-up a severed hand - things that have to be done immediately.”

Last Monday, the emergency department was closed completely because there were no doctors available in Princeton.

Patients with serious emergencies would have been helicoptered in to Penticton or Kelowna, while an ambulance would have driven people with non-life threatening emergencies to Penticton, Thomas said.

This is the first time the emergency department was completely closed due to doctor unavailability, he said.

“One of the doctors in town came back from Washington State in order to shorten that time as much as possible.”

On Christmas Eve, the emergency room was closed due to a nursing shortage.

There are three doctors in Princeton, but two are over the age of 70 and one can’t work a full night shift, Thomas said.

Thomas said he has watched the situation get steadily worse during the last year when he drew the previous mayor’s attention to the problem.

“It’s got worse and worse, as I predicted.”

There are three doctors in Princeton, but two are over the age of 70 and one can’t work a full night shift, Thomas said.

Locums were available in the past to cover for the doctors, but there aren’t any available right now.

Thomas is taking part in a meeting on March 15 to discuss possible solutions to the emergency room’s limited service.

Thomas said he has watched the situation get steadily worse during the last year when he drew the previous mayor’s attention to the problem.

Locums were available in the past to cover for the doctors, but there aren’t any available right now.

“It has got worse and worse, as I predicted,” Thomas said.

“I’m working as closely as I can with the IHA [Interior Health Authority] to reverse that trend.”

Thomas is taking part in a meeting on March 15 to discuss possible solutions to the emergency room’s limited service.

 

 

 

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