A British Columbia ambulance sits parked on a cloudy day. Is this the only ambulance in Port McNeill?
Photo Credit: Wayne | Flickr

When the Emergency Room Closes in Port McNeill, Call a Taxi

Port McNeil Island Health meeting reveals that there's almost no one there left to help you

Need an ambulance when the emergency room is closed? Good luck

On June 16th, Island Health held an open forum with folks in Port McNeill. The meeting ran overtime. And we’re not surprised. Folks are really concerned about healthcare in their region.

There’s good news and bad news. But here are two key things you need to know. If you find yourself in a life and death situation in Port McNeill, there might not be anyone there to help you.

The good news? There are no plans to permanently close the Port McNeill hospital. Even though its emergency room keeps getting shut down because of staffing issues.

During those shutdowns, folks who have a health emergency need to go to the hospital in Port Hardy or Port Alice (which also had a temporary emergency room shutdown last week).

Here’s the bad news: unless you have no other option, we wouldn’t recommend calling an ambulance. Because there’s only one for all of Port McNeill.

Nat Pottage is a Unit Chief for the BC Health Paramedic Service.

A concerned resident asked him specifically how many ambulances Port McNeill has to help people when the emergency room is closed.

According to Pottage, most of the time, it’s one.

“We don’t have any more staff, there’s not enough people. That’s the short and sweet,” he told the meeting.

That’s terrifying. And unacceptable. Folks in Port McNeill deserve better.

What happens if someone has a heart attack and then someone breaks their leg an hour later?

What happens if there’s a car crash?

Island Health tried to reassure people that they’re doing everything they can to recruit new staff. We understand that they’re trying to bring people to the region to work in healthcare.

But why don’t healthcare workers want to stay on the NorthIsle?

Maybe if nurses were allowed to talk we’d know the answer.

To get the whole scoop you can listen to the entire meeting here.

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