Some of the 1,461 publicly-funded long-term care beds in the Kelowna area have been temporarily closed because of staff shortages. Wait times for placement have also increased because of the closure, on Dec. 23, of the Pine Acres care home, shown here.

An undisclosed number of long-term care beds have been closed in the Central Okanagan because of staff shortages.

Twice as many B.C. health care workers called in sick last week compared to the same week in 2021, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday.

“This is an immensely challenging time when you have, incrementally, 10,000 more health care workers off sick in a given week, either one day or more. That has an impact on services and we are adapting everywhere,” Dix said during the government’s update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between Jan. 3-9, 14,591 health care workers called in sick, compared to 7,573 who were sick the same week last year. The numbers do not include Interior Health or Island Health, Dix said.

There are 188,000 health care workers around B.C., Dix said, so that means eight per cent of them were off sick last week, either with COVID-19 or another illness.

In the Central Okanagan, there are normally 1,461 publicly-funded long-term care beds and 91 short-stay beds.

“Some long-term care beds have a temporary hold on admissions, primarily related to staffing levels within each long-term care home. Our sites are also being impacted by increased COVID-19 activity in our community, as well as other seasonal illnesses that we often see during the winter months,” Interior Health said in a statement.

Interior Health did not respond to a follow-up email asking for clarity on what the use of the word ‘some’ in its statement meant, whether the number of closed beds was, for example, less than 50, between 50 and 100, or greater than 100.

Wait times for placement in long-term care homes in the Central Okanagan have also been lengthened because of the recent closure of one such facility.Pine Acres, operated by the Westbank First Nation, moved the last of its approximately 50 residents in mid-December, the WFN said in a statement.

Last fall, in an announcement that caught residents’ families by surprise, the WFN announced Pine Acres would close in January. Resident families did not receive the one-year notice as stipulated by the WFN’s operating agreement with the government.

“As of Thursday, December 23, 2021, all Pine Acres Home residents were safely transitioned to their new residences and as a result the facility closed earlier than anticipated,” the WFN statement said.