Island Health said all other inpatient services will continue as normal at both hospitals.
Emergency rooms will be closed for 12 hours in Port McNeil on Saturday and Port Hardy on Sunday due to limited staffing, according to Island Health.
The temporary service interruptions, which have been taking place for several months, will see Port McNeill Hospital’s emergency department closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Port Hardy Hospital’s emergency department closed overnight from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.
Island Health said all other inpatient services would continue as normal at both hospitals.
Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 or, if possible, proceed to the “appropriate” hospital, the health authority said.
Island Health and B.C. Emergency Health Services have protocols in place to ensure patients are transported to the appropriate site, said Island Health.
Health information and advice from a registered nurse is available toll-free day and night by calling HealthLink B.C. at 811.
Island Health said the situation is “not ideal” apologized for any inconvenience.
Port McNeill physician Dr. Prean Armogam, who said the diversions are the result of a nursing shortage, wrote to Island Health on Friday asking if Port Hardy physicians could assist Port McNeill doctors during the diversion to their hospital. He said he was turned down.
“In the spirit of fairness, we asked VIHA for the doctor in Port Hardy — who will be paid to be there with a closed hospital — to help in Port McNeill during the Port Hardy closure,” he said.
Unlike their Port Hardy counterparts, who work 12-hour shifts, doctors in Port McNeill work 72 hours on call, he said.
“So for 12 hours [Saturday] in the day, Port Hardy will receive all the region’s patients — they have fresh nursing and physician staff for that,” Armogam said.
“[Saturday] evening, Port McNeill will receive all the region’s patients with fresh nursing staff [and] with the same physician who has been on call since 9 a.m. Friday,” he said. “There is a fresh physician in Port Hardy during the 12-hour closure while the Port McNeill physician is left to soldier on.”