December 1, 2023

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‘Closed unless patient is imminently dying’: B.C. hospital sign prompts swift reaction

An unofficial sign posted Monday night on the doors of an emergency room in Northern B.C. that suggested services were suspended drew a swift reaction from politicians and community members.

The sign appeared at Caribou Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake.

It read “The Emergency Room is closed unless patient is imminently dying… Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Global News has learned the sign was put up by someone in the hospital who was not authorized by the health authority to do so, nor was the emergency room closed at the time.

It was taken at face value by many, given recent ER closures in rural communities across B.C.

“I ran from my office to see and make sure the hospital was open. I went inside and toured the hospital and emergency room and everything was operating normally the way it should be,” Surinderpal Rathor, mayor of Williams Lake told Global News.

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“This is the hub of the Cariboo. We are right in the middle. We got to make sure whatever happened Monday night, it does not get repeated, and won’t happen again.”

When asked about the sign’s appearance, B.C.’s Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government is taking action to support emergency rooms.

“The creation of a new expanded locum program, all the work we’re doing with nurses, nurses that are called travel nurses but really are a pool of nurses to support smaller community emergency rooms is to ensure that communities like Williams Lake get the care they need,” Dix said.

“I went personally to Williams Lake and met with doctors and nurses and health-care workers to work on and to deal with those issues.”

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