Kamloops mother, baby sent to Kelowna after closure of pediatric ward at Royal Inland Hospital | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

Kamloops mother, baby sent to Kelowna after closure of pediatric ward at Royal Inland Hospital

An ambulance arrives at the Kelowna General Hospital ER.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/KGH Foundation

A Kamloops mother and her three-week-old baby were transported to Kelowna General Hospital from Royal Inland Hospital Saturday night because no nurses were available to look after her son.

Yesterday, May 15, Interior Health confirmed unit 3 West, a pediatrics and obstetrics unit, closed temporarily as a number of staff had called in sick in that afternoon. Interior Health did not answer questions regarding how long the closure was in effect, how many health-care workers it was short or why there is a shortage of workers.

READ MORE: Kamloops hospital’s pediatrics, obstetrics unit temporarily closes due to staff calling in sick

Arian Macaulay and baby Koen were sent to Kelowna General because of the pediatrics and obstetrics unit closure.

Koen was admitted to Royal Inland Hospital, May 10, as he contracted a respiratory virus, Macaulay said. On May 14, just after 7 p.m., she was told there wouldn't be any nurses left on the ward until Monday and "they had to empty the whole ward."

They were sent by ambulance first to Merritt and then by a separate ambulance to Kelowna as Koen required oxygen.

They also don’t receive a ride back to Kamloops once discharged from Kelowna General, she said.

“It was defiantly a shock at first to figure out about the transfer. We thought we were just being moved to a different room or a different floor at the time," Macaulay said. "To find out they had to bring us all the way here was quite a big shock and it had nothing to do with his condition, it had everything to do with just the fact they couldn’t accommodate us anywhere in (Royal Inland Hospital) that we had to travel this far.”

There’s also a COVID-19 outbreak on the floor below them at Kelowna General, she said.

The outbreak is restricted to unit 3E, according to Interior Health, and was declared on Friday, May 13. It's the most recent out of seven ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at Interior Health facilities.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

“Where do we go from here when Kelowna is at capacity and once the nurses here start burning out as well?” Macaulay wondered.

Koen is doing better each day and she hopes he's discharged tomorrow.

This past weekend, Clearwater’s emergency department closed due to staffing shortages. It also closed the previous weekend because of the staffing challenges. Interior Health also announced this morning, May 16, that Nicola Valley Hospital's emergency department in Merritt will be closed until tomorrow at 8 a.m. due to limited physician availability.

In January, service reductions of heath-care facilities in rural communities occurred as more employees called in sick due to the Omicron variant. Those in rural departments were redeployed and reassigned. 

Staffing challenges at the Kamloops hospital have been ongoing for years, not just during the pandemic, according to an emergency department nurse.

She said there's a common misconception the current problems are due to the impacts of COVID-19, last year’s extreme wildfire activity in the area and vaccine mandates. She's witnessed ongoing staffing problems for years.

Interior Health and the Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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