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Island Health announces temporary closure of Island outpatient lab

A staffing shortage is behind the temporary closure of a Courtenay outpatient lab.

Island Health says that in order to ensure reliable, consistent service at the North Island Hospital, Comox Valley (NIH-CV) lab, it has temporarily closed its downtown Courtenay Satellite outpatient lab.

The lab at 307A 14th Street is closed effective today (Oct. 27th).

“Recruitment of qualified lab staff is a challenge across Canada, not just in B.C. or within Island Health,” an Island Health release said.

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“Medical laboratories across the province, including those in Island Health, are impacted by the increased demand for services due to the COVID-19 response.”

Island Health says lab staff shortages are particularly challenging in the Comox Valley at this time.

On top of that, the health authority is also experiencing higher demand for lab services.

Volumes through the NIH-CV emergency department jumped 35 percent between October 2020 and October 2021, and outpatient collections increased 30 percent at NIH-CV over the same period.

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The St. Joseph’s and Cumberland outpatient labs that were closed in March 2020 to support the COVID-19 response will remain closed at this time.

“These closures are needed to allow Island Health to focus staffing and resources on the NIH-CV lab, ensuring a consistent service for both outpatients and inpatients,” Island Health says.

Anyone with standing orders for lab work will be accommodated at the NIH-CV outpatient lab.

LifeLabs also has an outpatient lab in Courtenay at 1599 Cliffe Avenue – just a few blocks from the downtown Courtenay Satellite lab that can be used for many outpatient lab needs.

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Island Health says it’s “focused on recruitment of both medical laboratory assistants and technologists.

“We are also actively working with our partners on a localized response to this national issue,” it added.

“These temporary closures are expected to be in effect until we have more sustainable staffing levels.”

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