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Kootenay East MLA frustrated by prolonged closure of Elkford ER

Elkford’s emergency room has passed the two-year mark on its temporary closure, and Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka is frustrated at the lack of progress toward reopening.

Shypitka said there has been little communication from the B.C. government.

“For the past two years, members of this community have had to travel upwards of 45 minutes just to get to the nearest ER and with winter approaching, that journey becomes much longer and significantly more dangerous,” said Shypitka. “This NDP government seems to be content with leaving a rural ER sitting ‘temporarily’ closed for two years, with no clarity as to when it will reopen.”

Shypitka said the extended closure has left Elkford residents to suffer from a lack of medical care access.

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“The people of Elkford are fed up and want to know when they’ll be able to access emergency care, but David Eby and the NDP refuse to give us a straight answer,” said Shypitka.

However, emergency room closures are not a unique problem.

“Communities across the province are also struggling with extensive closures and it is putting immense pressure on neighbouring ambulance services,” said officials with Shypitka’s office. “In Elkford, a mining town that depends on emergency medical access, not having an ER has been devastating to the community.”

The MLA attacked the B.C. NDP for their lack of action on what he feels is an urgent issue.

“This government continues to drag its feet with recruiting doctors and nurses to staff emergency rooms across the province, and rural communities feel the impacts most acutely,” added Shypitka. “As the healthcare situation in British Columbia continues to deteriorate, it is unacceptable that residents in this province — rural or not — should have to face extensive travel to another facility just to see a doctor.”

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