Staff shortages are behind the closures of two medical labs serving the North Okanagan.
The Valley Medical Laboratories out of the Lumby Health Unit was confirmed closed temporarily by general manager Kara Kirkwood in a memo, while Interior Health confirmed the temporary closure of the Sterling Centre Outpatient Lab as of Oct. 26.
“Interior Health has been actively recruiting lab workers over the past few years to stabilize lab services throughout the North Okanagan,” a spokesperson said. “These professionals are in high demand and unfortunately on occasion, Interior Health has no need to adjust and make temporary changes to lab services throughout the region.”
“Extreme staffing shortages and pressure on North Okanagan Patient Service Centres” is the reason behind Lumby’s lab closure, according to Kirkwood.
Patients requiring appointments may book at the Vernon Main Laboratory online at valleymedicallaboratories.com or by phone at 250-549-1207. Walk-in services are available at the 106-4710 31st Street location between 7:30-4 p.m.
Those who typically visit the Sterling Centre who may require walk-in lab service are asked to visit the Polson Tower Outpatient Lab at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
Patients can book appointments online at labonlinebooking.ca or by calling 1-877-740-7747 between 8-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Interior Health did confirm there is no direct correlation between its staff shortage and the mandatory vaccination policy that went into effect on Oct. 12.
The local health authority has the highest number of unvaccinated healthcare workers in B.C. Some 1,186 of the Interior Health region’s 21,675 health care workers – about seven per cent – are currently unvaccinated, compared to 1,106 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,054 in Vancouver Island Health, 735 in Fraser Health, 630 in Provincial Health Services Authority and 515 in the Northern Health Authority.