Outpatient medical lab services in Ucluelet have been suspended since August 9th. And there are no signs they’re coming back.
Why are they suspended? It’s the same old story.
Not enough staff. Staff from the Ucluelet clinic have been sent to Tofino to keep the hospital’s lab open.
“There’s lots of eye-rolling,” Mayor Mayco Noel told the Westerly News. “People are uncertain and hoping that this doesn’t become the new norm. All we can do is wait to see.”
It’s a problem with no easy fix. And it’s definitely not for a lack of trying by overworked medical staff. The problem is being felt everywhere from Port Alberni to Port Hardy.
It’s like the healthcare system in BC is starting to crumble. And the first cracks are showing in the small places around the edges.
“Island Health, like all health authorities across BC and Canada, is experiencing a shortage of qualified medical lab support staff,” read an Island Health announcement.
“This temporary closure will enable Island Health to consolidate staffing to support necessary services at (Tofino General Hospital). Recruitment efforts are ongoing and it is expected that the Ucluelet outpatient lab will re-open when staffing levels allow,” it states.
To access lab services, patients are being told to travel to Tofino General Hospital. And Ucluelet residents aren’t happy about it.
“There’s a lot of people who think it’s okay and reasonable for us to drive to Tofino, but for anyone who lives in Ucluelet we know the answer is that it’s completely unreasonable and we just don’t want that,” said Noel.
Tofino’s hospital hours have been extended to accommodate the extra people, but it’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
“This is just another prime example of the challenges that Island Health has and unfortunately it appears that this is going to be an ongoing subject here for the next few years until something dramatic changes.”
Ucluelet’s only medical clinic almost closed down earlier this year, but Island Health stepped in at the last second with funding to keep it afloat.
Maybe a last-minute miracle will bring lab services back to Ucluelet as well.
For more up-to-date information on local lab services or closures check, out islandhealth.ca or call 1-877-370-8355.