The emergency department at Princeton Hospital will be closed from midnight to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday starting May 1.
An announcement was made by Interior Health at town council April 2 about the decision to close the emergency department during these times until a doctor is found to fill the shifts.
These scheduled closures will reduce the amount of time the hospital is on LLTO status, where only someone who could die or lose a limb will be seen.
But the amount of times the hospital is actually closed -when an injured or sick person must travel to another hospital for treatment – will increase once the change comes into affect.
“It’s been really obvious to residents of Princeton that we’ve had challenges… in ensuring we have sufficient physicians to provide on-call coverage,” said Princeton Hospital administrator Susan Brown.
And the situation has gotten worse.
One doctor reduced his on-call availability as of April 2 and locum doctors from previous years aren’t available, she said.
If the hospital wasn’t on a set schedule of closures, the emergency department could end up being closed during busier times, Brown said.
“We are concerned that we are moving into the potential of more closures and that some of those closures may be during peak times,” Brown said.
“That’s the kind of instability we want to avoid.”
During the time the emergency room is closed four times a week patients will have to travel by ambulance or helicopter to Penticton or another city for treatment.
Interior Health will be working with Princeton’s three doctors in their recruitment strategy to see how they envision making room for another doctor in town, Brown said.
The emergency department is tentatively closed on April 9, 16, 25 and 30, until it begins regular closures in May 1.