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Doctor shortage: Now the emergency ward in Blind River is closing

The emergency department in Thessalon has been forced to lock its doors multiple times over the past week; Blind River will follow suit on Friday for 24 hours
ElliotLakeToday file photo shows the Blind River welcome sign

Over the past week, the North Shore Health Network (NSHN) has become Exhibit A of the doctor shortage plaguing northern Ontario. 

Three times over the past seven days, the NSHN has been forced to shut down the emergency department in Thessalon — one of its three regional emergency wards — because there was no doctor or nurse practitioner to report for duty.

This morning brought a sliver of good news: today’s closure, originally scheduled to last 24 hours, was cut in half because officials managed to find a doctor for the 12-hour shift that begins at 8 o’clock tonight.

But the good news was short-lived: in a separate press release, the NSHN now says its Blind River emergency department will be forced to temporarily shut down “due to physician shortages.”

That facility will be closed for 24 hours, from 8 a.m. on Friday June 2 to 8 a.m. on Saturday June 3.

"NSHN would like to thank the community for your continued patience and understanding during this time as we work with our partners towards sustainable resources to serve your healthcare needs," the news release states.

Timothy Vine, CEO of the North Shore Health Network, was a guest on the latest episode of Village Media's Inside the Village podcast. He explained how the situation got so dire, if there’s a reasonable cure in sight — and how he sleeps at night knowing that a community he serves has no emergency room for people to depend on. (You can watch the full interview here.)

While the Blind River location is closed, anyone requiring immediate medical attention should call 9-1-1. Ambulances will be re-routed to one of the following:

NSHN Thessalon Site or St. Joseph’s General Hospital Elliot Lake.

The closest Emergency Departments to the Blind River Site are:

• Thessalon Site – North Shore Health Network – 135 Dawson St., Thessalon ON, P0R 1L0

• St. Joseph’s General Hospital Elliot Lake – 70 Spine Rd., Elliot Lake, ON, P5A 1X2

Access to services for non-emergent health advice or information is available by calling Health811 by calling 8-1-1. Toll free TTY line: 1-866-797-007. Or start a live chat with an advisor online at:

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