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Pressuring government pays off as Interior Health reverses decision on New Denver ER

Twenty-five Slocan residents demonstrated their thanks in front of MLA Katrine Conroy’s Castlegar office. The Slocan Community Health Centre is back to 24/7 emergency service thanks to Conroy’s intervention. — Submitted photo

Thanks to quick-thinking activism in the community of New Denver, the emergency department at the Slocan Community Health Centre (SCHC) will remain open 24/7 at least until the spring.

Shockwaves were sent through the valley after a press release issued by the Interior Health Authority (IH) on January 17th stated that the SCHC emergency department would only be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

However, only a day later (January 18th), a second press release was sent out by Interior Health rescinding the change, saying 24/7 service would continue contingent upon physician availability.

The abrupt turnaround was due to the community contacting their local MLA and the Health Minister, said Colin Moss, Chair of the Slocan Chamber of Commerce Health Committee.

“We’ve put up such a fuss. We contacted Katrine Conroy and Adrian Dix, and Conroy asked Dix to tell Interior Health to back off,” Moss told The Nelson Daily. “Slocan Valley rose up and created such a fuss that the health authority backed off.”

What was originally planned to be a further demonstration asking to restore 24/7 emergency service changed into a 25-person demonstration of thanks outside MLA Katrine Conroy’s Castlegar office on Monday, January 22nd.

Conroy’s Constituency Assistant Elaine Whitehead was surprised by the display of gratitude, something she had never seen before.

“It was great, it was a fabulous meeting/demonstration,” said Moss. “Elaine said nobody has ever done that before. Lots of people complain but no one has thanked them.”

But the fight isn’t over.

IH has said talks will resume in the spring about cutting hours at the Health Centre if there aren’t more physicians to cover on-call hours.