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Staffing issue closes ER at Clearwater’s Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital

Service disruption being blamed on limited nursing availability
Clearwater hospital (Angie Mindus photo)

Limited nursing availability has forced the closure of the ER at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital in Clearwater Monday, Dec. 4.

Interior Health noted the emergency department will be closed until 7 p.m. Patients are being told to access emergency care at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

During this time, all other inpatient services will continue as normal at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, noted IH in a news release.

People in the community who need life-threatening emergency care (i.e., chest pains, difficulty breathing, severe bleeding) should always call 911 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility.

Anyone unsure whether an emergency room visit is warranted can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, or visit for non-emergency health information from nurses, dietitians and pharmacists 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

The emergency department in Clearwater is normally open 24/7.

In 2022, the Clearwater hospital was forced to close its emergency department almost 60 times due to emergency department RN staffing vacancies.

At that time Interior Health, the District of Clearwater, individual health administrators, Clearwater mayor and council, community residents, hospital nursing and non-nursing staff, physicians, the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice and the B.C. Nurses Union worked to find solutions to the complex problem and there has not been disruptions since Sept. 2022.