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Staffing shortages prompt new ER closures in central Newfoundland

A brick building with a sign that reads Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre.
The Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre is one of six health centres in central Newfoundland facing temporary closures, announced by the provincial health authority Thursday evening. (Google Maps)

Staffing shortages have forced several health centres in central Newfoundland to temporarily shutter their emergency rooms for the next week.

Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services issued six press releases Thursday evening announcing the closures, saying the staffing issue is temporary.

Lewisporte Health Centre’s emergency room will close on Tuesday at 8 a.m. and will reopen the next day at 8 a.m. But it will close again on Thursday at 8 a.m. and open the following day at 8 a.m.

The ER at A.M. Guy Memorial Health Centre in Buchans will be closed Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Dr. Y.K. Jeon Kittiwake Health Centre in New-Wes-Valley is closed until Tuesday, when it will open with a virtual ER from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The ER will also be closed on Wednesday, and then will be open with virtual ER on Thursday from 4-10 p.m.

According to the press release, a virtual ER means people can go to the ER, where there will be health care professionals on site. A physician or nurse practitioner will also be available by video.

Harbour Breton’s Connaigre Peninsula Health Centre’s ER will be closed until Tuesday at 4 p.m., when it will open with a virtual ER until 10 p.m. It will be closed Wednesday and then reopen from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday with virtual ER.

Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre will cose Sunday at 8 a.m. and reopen at 8 a.m. on Monday, staying open until it closes again Thursday at 8 a.m. 

Fogo Island Health Centre’s ER will be open on the weekend, and on Tuesday will open with virtual ER from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will be closed Wednesday and reopen Thursday at 8 a.m.

N.L. Health Services is advising people who need urgent care when their area’s ER is closed to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, which would be the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor or James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre in Gander.

The closures come as the Newfoundland and Labrador struggles with health-care staffing shortages. In February, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association estimated 136,000 people in the province don’t have access to a family physician. As a result, people often turn to ERs for treatment.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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