British Columbia’s largest provider of medical laboratory services has closed or reduced 16 locations for at least two weeks due to staff shortages related to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
On Wednesday, LifeLabs closed 11 locations: eight in the Lower Mainland, two in Victoria and one in Kamloops. Three more locations in the Lower Mainland and two in Victoria have announced reduced opening hours.
The company said it would monitor the situation and provide an update within two weeks.
“This change has been made to maintain consistent and reliable service for our customers and reduce the increased pressure on our teams,” said a statement on the LifeLabs website.
“In order to maintain service in the community, we will be redeploying affected personnel (from those locations) to nearby, central locations. Clients and caregivers will be redirected to those nearby locations.”
LifeLabs is a privately held company and the largest provider of medical laboratory services in BC, including testing for COVID-19.
The closures are a worrying development in an already overstretched health care system with staff shortages in every sector.
“It just means that there will now be more stress on our acute care services and more stress on the people who now urgently need healthcare. They are the ones who will suffer,” said primary care physician Dr. Karina Zeidler.
Zeidler said she feels hopeless and fears the entire health system is on the brink of collapse.
“It’s very difficult for me to see how we can now avoid something like a shutdown or a circuit breaker to save our healthcare system,” she said. “I think the responsibility lies with our government. They had warned a lot that this was coming.”
The LifeLabs locations that are temporarily closed are:
- 180 Keefer Street, Vancouver.
- 943 West Broadway, Vancouver.
- 888 West Eighth Ave., Vancouver.
- 1200 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver.
- 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond.
- 6051 Gilbert Road, Richmond.
- 9639 137A St, Surrey.
- 12195 Harris Rd., Pitt Meadows.
- 650 Fort St., Victoria.
- 1641 Hill, Victoria.
- 321 Nicola St., Kamloops.
The following locations have adjusted opening hours:
- 2061 West 42nd Ave., Vancouver.
- 1200 Burrard Street, Vancouver.
- 33498 Bevan Ave., Abbotsford.
- 1590 Cedar Hill Cross Road, Victoria.
- 582 Goldstream, Victoria.