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Lack of staff forces Interior Health to shift resources, close facilities

Communities with closures include Clearwater, Barriere, Ashcroft, New Denver and Invermere
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Interior Health has shifted its staff and closed some facilities in rural locations due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19.

Inpatient services will be closed at Clearwater, Invermere and Lillooet "to stabilize emergency departments in those communities," read a statement provided by Interior Health on Jan. 18.

The Barriere and District Health Centre has also been closed and staff there have been redeployed elsewhere.

Overnight hours have also been reduced at the Ashcroft Community Health Centre and the Slocan Community Health Centre in New Denver "to stabilize daytime services," according to IH.

Finally, non-urgent scheduled surgeries have been cancelled and rescheduled, other services have been temporarily reduced, including some primary care services, adult day programs and non-urgent home health services.

Interior Health said reduced services will vary by community.

Calling it a proactive move, Interior Health CEO and president Susan Brown said normal operations will resume as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix provided figures to show how many more people are off sick. Although the data was not available for Interior Health, Dix said from Jan. 10 to Jan. 16, 11,573 health-care workers from all health authorities, except IH and Island Health, were off sick. That figure compares to 7,573 off during that time in a previous year. Across all health authorities, 17,958 health-are workers were off sick that week.