The ongoing closures of the emergency room at the Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt, BC, have local residents calling for help.
Many believe it’s just a matter of time before someone dies due to an ER closure.
A solution has presented itself, but Interior Health says it’s not up to their standards.
“We have these three mountain pass highways (and) the Coquihalla highway all merging into our town and I mean if that ER is closed, someone’s going to die. Someone will die here,” said community advocate Georgia Clement.
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The closures are in part being attributed to staff shortages, however, one doctor who works in a hospital in New Westminster offered his services to the Merritt hospital.
“We have a very well-qualified surgeon in our midst who is willing and able to help out his town that he lives in and IHA is denying him,” said Clement.
Dr. Robert Granger lives at Merritt and works as a surgeon for Fraser Health. He told Global News due to his position he couldn’t speak on camera, but confirmed he did offer to work a few days at the local emergency department so he wouldn’t have to close.
However, his credentials aren’t being rubber-stamped.
“IHA determined that he needed to have more qualifications as a general practitioner in order to do ER shifts at Merritt,” Clement said.
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IH says it can’t comment on individual cases, but in a statement it says provincial requirements need to be met before doctors can be approved to practice.
“In order to provide medical services in an IH acute care facility, physicians must meet the credentialing, training and currency requirements for the specialty area in which they want to work,” said executive medical director of clinical operations for IH North, Dr. Douglas Smith.
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“Where physicians may not meet the full requirements, Interior Health is committed to ongoing conversations to determine where they are able to meet the requirements to provide care in our facilities. Interior Health is committed to ensuring Merritt residents have access to quality medical care as we work through the current challenges with physician recruitment.”
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Merritt residents say this has become an uphill battle and if a solution is presented, they would at least consider it like it.
“We want them to make a decision now. We want it based on the fact that Dr. Robert Granger is here now and if it’s not him, it needs to be somebody else but we need the emergency room to stay open 24/7. No more closures. None.”
Granger told Global News he had a phone meeting scheduled with IH Thursday but was told late Wednesday afternoon that it was canceled.
Mayor Michael Goetz also told Global News he will be meeting with Interior Health in the coming days to see if a remedy can be found.
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