Cormorant Island’s health-care crisis will be continuing on throughout at least half the month of December.
The island, home to the ‘Namgis First Nation and the Village of Alert Bay, has roughly 1,000 residents, and it has been consistently hit with temporary overnight closures of the Cormorant Island Community Health Centre (CICHC) emergency department (ED) since last August.
Island Health announced Nov. 30 that the overnight closures will now be extended until Dec. 15, at which point the closures will likely continue on all over again.
The temporary closures are in effect from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. every night of the week.
“Anyone experiencing a medical emergency while the ED is closed should call 911,” urged Island Health. “Do not go to the CICHC ED during the hours it is closed, as this will delay your access to care. Island Health and BC Emergency Health Services have protocols in place to ensure patients are transported to an appropriate alternate site.”
Island Health acknowledged this is not an ideal situation for the community “and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience experienced by this temporary service interruption.”
When asked to comment, Alert Bay mayor Dennis Buchanan stated he certainly doesn’t like seeing the emergency department closed overnight, “and I know the rest of the residents here don’t like it either, but with the shortage of doctors and registered nurses all over the province, it’s unfortunately going to continue to be an ongoing problem.”
Buchanan confirmed Alert Bay council is currently in the midst of discussions with Island Health, along with the ‘Namgis First Nation and the Whe-La-La-U Area Council, about how to fix the staffing issues so they can get the emergency department reopened again for overnight service.
He added they just recently lost two doctors who finished out their contracts and are now down to only one doctor for the entire island.
“Unfortunately I can’t see it changing in the foreseeable future,” he said, adding that nearby Port Hardy and Port McNeill are both “having the same issues.”