Prince Rupert emergency department closed for 3rd night in a row – BC

For the third night in a row, the emergency department at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital was closed on Tuesday.

Those needing emergency health services in the coastal B.C. city had to wait until 8 a.m. Wednesday for the reopening, or travel two hours to Terrace.

The sudden closure at the emergency room happened at 3 p.m., with North Health issuing a closure alert at 3:03 p.m. on its Facebook page.

Northern Health said the closure was due to “challenges with physician coverage.”

“The timing of interruptions is subject to change, as we are continually working to ensure physician and nursing staff coverage for emergency department services,” Northern Health said in a social media post.

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Emergency rooms in Masset, Prince Rupert, Hazelton and Kitimat have all had to temporarily close their doors several times recently due to shortages of either nurses or physicians.

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A rural health-care advocate told Global News there needs to be better contingency plans to prevent emergency room closures.

Paul Adams, with BC Rural Health Network, said closures are a symptom of a larger systemic issue that impacts all British Columbians.

“We actually have these challenges where people have to go super long distances to seek care,” he said.

“That puts additional strain on emergency services for ambulance supply. Then we see a lack of ambulances for those who dial 911. That has a trickle-down effect.

“These patients make their way to emergency departments in these larger centres. There is a downstream and upstream effect on the rural population.”

Global News has reached out to Northern Health for comment.

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