Vernon councillor ‘disappointed’ with permanent closure of blood lab | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon councillor ‘disappointed’ with permanent closure of blood lab

FILE PHOTO - The Sterling Centre
Image Credit: Google Maps

A Vernon city councillor who has first-hand experience of the challenges with getting blood tested in the city says it’s “disappointing” Interior Health has shuttered one of the few blood labs available.

This weekend, Interior Health confirmed a blood collection lab at The Sterling Centre on 25 Avenue would close permanently due to lack of staff. It first closed last October due to challenges recruiting medical lab assistants, said corporate program director Joanne Isber with Interior Health’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, in an emailed statement.

READ MORE: Blood lab permanently closes in Vernon due to staffing shortages

Coun. Teresa Durning first became aware of the issue back in April, when she and other residents stood for hours outside of a local clinic waiting for blood work. 

Vernon has three labs, the Polson Tower Outpatient Lab at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and two Valley Medical Laboratories.

“Heathcare is out of the purview of City of Vernon council but we absolutely do have the right to advocate for the citizens,” Durning said.

She has raised the issue with Vernon MLA Harwinder Sandhu before realizing the issue is getting worse.

“The labs are open and the waiting rooms are full but we don’t have enough facilities and then to hear The Sterling Centre lab wasn’t going to reopen, that’s a real disappointment and I think it’s really just an indicator of a system that’s crumbling a bit and people really need to advocate for themselves to the MLA,” she said.

“I’ll continue pushing for better service overall in the City of Vernon.”

Last week, Durning tried to book another blood work appointment through Interior Health but the schedule at the hospital was full until January 2023.

Sterling lab employees have all been reallocated to the hospital, according to Interior Health.

“Interior Health has been actively recruiting lab workers over the past few years to stabilize lab services throughout the North Okanagan. Both medical laboratory assistants required for blood collection and medical laboratory technologist professionals are in high demand both provincially and nationally.”

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