CHETWYND -- The Emergency Department at the Chetwynd Hospital was diverted overnight Wednesday as Northern Health continues to grapple with nurse and physician shortages.

The emergency department was unavailable between 11:00 p.m. June 19th, until 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday June 20th.

Last night’s closure marks the 15th hospital diversion in Chetwynd over the last six months, and the third this month alone, due to chronic staffing shortages.

Emergency Department services were also unavailable at the Fort St. John Hospital from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, with patients being transferred to the nearest hospital in Dawson Creek.

Speaking with CJDC-TV on the state of healthcare in the Peace Region, MLA Mike Bernier said the province and Northern Health are completely dropping the ball on the chronic staffing shortage.

Berniers adds that the Health Authority is not treating the situation with the urgency that’s required, and ‘outside the box’ thinking is required in dealing with staffing shortages

“We are continually working to ensure coverage for emergency department shifts,” said Northern Health.

MLA Dan Davies, who has been advocating for an independent audit of Northern Health, told CJDC-TV earlier this month that challenges like this point to a failing healthcare system.

“I do not blame the health staff, whether it's the doctors, the nurses and such-- this is a bigger systemic issue within the system itself,” said Davies.

Davies says pressure placed on nurses due to staff shortages is contributing to an issue of burnout among healthcare workers.

In an effort to attract more nurses to work in Northern B.C., Northern Health announced on June 3rd, 2024, a $30,000 signing bonus for new registered and licenced practical nurses willing to work in an emergency role.