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Williams Lake ER closure Monday, Oct. 2 comes a surprise to city council

No one at the city was informed about the closure
A sign posted at Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Monday, Oct. 2, indicated the emergency room was closed. (Photo submitted)

Williams Lake city council wants answers after a sign saying the hospital’s emergency room was closed “unless patient is imminently dying” was posted at Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Monday evening, Oct. 2.

Coun. Scott Nelson, who appeared at the regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. by Zoom, said he had received a photo of the sign through a text and had three phone calls about it.

Nelson made a motion council “express its outrage and frustration” to Interior Health and Minister Dix on the “unprecedented” closing of the emergency room at the CMH and further council request the CRD, local First Nations, the city of Williams Lake and MLA Lorne Doerkson meet collectively with Interior Health regarding the “substandard level of care” for residents of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Chilcotin.

“This specifically is related to [fact] they don’t have enough nurses in the emergency room,” Nelson said.

The motion was defeated four-to-three.

Councillors Nelson, Sheila Boehm and Mayor Surinderpal Rathor voted in favour.

Councillors Angie Delainey, Joan Flaspohler, Jazmyn Lyons and Michael Moses were opposed.

Flaspohler said she wanted more information before using the word “outrage.”

“I don’t know the facts and exactly what happened before I take any kind of position,” she said.

Delainey agreed saying she would like to find out what happened and then “hammer on” to Interior Health.

Rathor said he could assure that it did happen because he received several messages about the sign as well.

“IHA has been very respectful about letting us know about every scheduled shutdown in any hospital in the territory of IHA and that’s how they are,” Rathor said. “What happened in this case? I have no details?”

Council passed a motion unanimously tasking staff to find out what happened at the hospital on Monday evening and report back to council Wednesday morning.

The emergency room was open Tuesday, Oct. 3, and there was no sign up at the hospital.

Earlier Tuesday, the Tribune contacted Interior Health about the closure and the communication person replied there was no closure they were aware of.

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