Signs outside the Community Hospital Forum in Princeton alert the community to emergency department closures four times a week. The signs are also being displayed in businesses around town. The Hospital Forum provides information on the hospital and is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Signs outside the Community Hospital Forum in Princeton alert the community to emergency department closures four times a week. The signs are also being displayed in businesses around town. The Hospital Forum provides information on the hospital and is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Princeton business owners voice concerns about ER closures

Princeton's business community gathered to discuss the negative affects of scheduled emergency department closures four time a week.

Princeton’s business community gathered on May 15 to discuss the negative affects of scheduled emergency department closures four times a week.

“We have 330 employees in a large industrial site, and having emergency medical care in Princeton is important to us,” Copper Mountain Mine manager Bill Dodds told the Spotlight.

The mine runs 24 hours a day but employees would have to be transported to another town over an hour away for treatment when the hospital is closed from midnight to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday.

The situation is similar for forestry operator Weyerhaeuser, which also runs 24 hours a day.

“With the reduction in services to the hospital, going back for many years, the anchor of our community is being eroded,” said Princeton U-Brew owner Dave Rainer at the meeting.

“It has a direct impact on us.”

With two major industries in town – mining and forestry – Princeton should have a 24/7 emergency department, he said.

Retirees aren’t going to choose Princeton to settle down if the emergency department isn’t running 24 hours a day, said Princeton real estate agent Dan Pippin.

“Home values are going to drop. You lose 10 per cent of the population, that’s 10 per cent of the customers,” he said.

Doctor shortages are happening across B.C., but the situation is especially dangerous in Princeton because it is an isolated, industrial community, said Save Our Hospital organizer Sol Allison.

“It’s in the Canadian Constitution for all of us to have fair and equal access to health care. This isn’t happening in Princeton.”

The highway through Princeton is the third busiest in B.C., and having the hospital’s emergency department closed could be deadly, Allison said.

Rainer said the short-term goal is 24/7 emergency room care, but ultimately he would like to see a functioning operating room.

“[Business owners] have invested in this community but our investments are being devalued, both our businesses and homes.”