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Doctor shortage closes Oliver emergency again

B.C. government set to change funding model to attract doctors to rural hospitals

The Oliver emergency services will be unavailable from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, No. 23 due to a lack of available doctors. Patients can access care at Penticton Regional Hospital during this time.

All other inpatient services will continue as normal at South Okanagan General Hospital.

This is the second time in the past week that emergency services at SOGH have been closed due to doctor shortages.

The Oliver emergency room has been plagued with closures. In October, Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen was optimistic that a new funding model to compensate doctors would help bring a near end to or at least lessen the constant emergency department closures at South Okanagan General Hospital.

“This is a positive step in the right direction with giving physicians a flat rate instead of fee for service,” said Johansen at the time. “Younger doctors seem to like this model. It’s not a silver bullet but I think it will bring stabilization.”

One of the big problems is emergency physicians from Penticton or Kelowna hospital were actually paid less when they work in Oliver, Johansen said.

The provincial government announced that they are offering a flat rate compensation and committed $7.5 million in permanent funding to help stabilize physician emergency-room coverage in hospitals in Merritt, Oliver and Salmon Arm.

READ MORE: Province helps out ER staffing shortages

READ MORE: Oliver emergency closes 4 days in row

Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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