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Repairs ongoing at Kamloops ER waiting room after temperature drops to –6 C due to broken heater

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., is pictured in September 2021. According to the hospital's executive director of clinical operations, the issue with the heater was first reported around 3 a.m. on Saturday.  (Jenifer Norwell/CBC - image credit)
Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., is pictured in September 2021. According to the hospital's executive director of clinical operations, the issue with the heater was first reported around 3 a.m. on Saturday. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC - image credit)

Temperatures in the emergency department waiting room of Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, B.C., dropped to –6 C early Saturday morning after its heater stopped working.

As of Saturday evening, temperatures in the waiting area were at 18 C as technicians continued to work on the broken heater, according to a statement provided by Interior Health.

Interior Health said the heater in question is located at the front door of the emergency department's temporary waiting room, which has been in place while renovations are ongoing in the main waiting room.

Patients were immediately moved to the main waiting room, Interior Health said in the statement, "where there is significantly less cold air coming from outside."

It said staff are giving out blankets and routinely checking on patients.

The city in the southern Interior had low temperatures of –27 C on Saturday, and a high of –21 C, according to Environment Canada.

Space heaters and a divider to block out cold air helped bring temperatures to 18 C in the main waiting room, and 17 C in the temporary waiting room.

Gerry Desilets, executive director of clinical operations at Royal Inland Hospital, said the issue was first reported around 3 a.m. on Saturday.

"The last thing we want is for [patients] to be really cold in that area and very uncomfortable," said Desilets. "We did get people moving through the area quite quickly."

He said no other part of the hospital was impacted, and encouraged anyone with a health emergency to come to the hospital.

"We don't want people not coming into the emergency department because they're hearing these things," said Desilets.