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Vernon residents dealing with long wait-times, line-ups for blood work

The lineup outside of the Valley Medical Laboratories Railway Plaza location April 7, 2022.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Teresa Durning

A Vernon councillor is frustrated for seniors and those with health issues who were standing in line for hours yesterday to get blood work done.

Councillor Teresa Durning said while waiting in line for some blood work at the Valley Medical Laboratories Railway Plaza location yesterday, April 6, there was a heartbreaking situation, seniors standing in the cold.

“There was a lady there that waited for two hours at the hospital lab and then was told she wasn’t going to make it in time,” she said, adding the hospital lab accepts online bookings but there’s a two-month-long waitlist for an appointment.

Residents can choose to show up at the hospital but the lineup starts at 6:30 a.m., so “you can’t get in,” Durning said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Interior Health employees called in sick during Omicron wave

Vernon has three labs, the Polson Tower Outpatient Lab at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and two Valley Medical Laboratories. At the Valley Medical lab’s downtown location, bookings can be made only three weeks in advance but none were available as of April 7. No walk-ins are accepted at that location.

Durning said at the Railway Plaza lab, “there was nowhere for people to sit, especially the seniors and for the people that are ill.”

She thinks the waits are happening because of the ongoing labour shortage of lab technicians. Durning waited outside the clinic for almost two hours to get basic blood work done.

“We’re in a crisis and I think people need to be aware of what’s happening and secondly we have a labour crisis with our health-care workers,” she said.

Interior Health said in a written statement it has been actively recruiting lab workers in the past few years to “stabilize lab services” in the North Okanagan.

“These professionals are in high demand both provincially and nationally,” the statement read.

The health authority did not say whether the long wait times were directly tied to the staffing shortage, nor if there was an increase in demand for blood work this spring.

Interior Health asked those in need of lab work to book online or call 1-877-740-7747 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

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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