DAWSON CREEK -- To the surprise of many residents, the emergency department at the Dawson Creek Hospital was on diversion Tuesday night.

"It is not always possible to post about periods of diversion in real time-- as they can be required or cancelled on short notice or after hours,” said Northern Health.

CJDC-TV News reached out to Northern Health regarding the closure after residents took to social media to express their concern over a lack of transparency.

“If someone dies going to a closed ER and Northern Health knows about it but the community doesn’t, who is responsible for that?” Questioned one resident.

The hospital failed to put out an advisory on the closure that overlapped a diversion at the Chetwynd Hospital and Health Centre.

“In the event of a service interruption after hours, our partners in patient transfer and local health services will be notified, and signage will be in placed at the facility informing patients to call 9-1-1 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility,” said Northern Health.

The health authority confirmed the emergency department was closed just after 8:30 p.m. July 2nd, reopening at 7:00 a.m. this morning.

CJDC TV asked Northern Health if it is possible to put a note on the front door to the ER at 8:30pm that says the hospital in on diversion, why is it not then possible to post that exact same message on social media warning residents of the closure, before they head to the hospital. We did not receive a reply to our question.

Northern Health says the closure was due to an unexpected nursing shortage and high patient volumes.

"Our communications team tries to inform our communities of upcoming service disruptions as soon as that info becomes available-- in instances like last evening there was no one available to post in the FB group after hours,” said Northern Health.

Those requiring emergency care in Chetwynd were being transferred to the Dawson Creek hospital since Tuesday morning, with that emergency department reopening at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Northern Health has cited a lack of physicians for the closure, marking the hospital’s 16th emergency department diversion this year.

CJDC-TV continues to push for answers from Northern Health, and will be following up on its communication processes for off-hour diversions.

The late Wednesday afternoon Northern Health advised residents that emergency department services at the Dawson Creek Hospital will once again be unavailable between 7:00 p.m. Wednesday July 3rd until 7:00 a.m. on July 4th.

The hospital is dealing with challenges with nurse coverage, according to Northern Health. 

“People in the Dawson Creek area who need life-threatening emergency care (i.e. chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding) should call 9-1-1 for transport to the nearest available and appropriate facility,” said Northern Health in a statement. 

Northern Health has not made it clear if the emergency department will be the only service interrupted by Wednesday's nurse shortage.

The emergency department at the Chetwynd Hospital reopened at 4:00 p.m. today after being interrupted since 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 2.