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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — B.C.’s Health Minister announced the reactivation of 20 emergency operation centres to prepare for a potential increase in respiratory illness hospitalizations.

During a news conference on Friday, Adrian Dix said the centres would be in place starting Monday to support hospital units at 20 hospitals across the province, including the Fort St. John Hospital.

Dix said the province is being proactive to ensure residents can continue to have access to hospital care and will assist in responding to periods of added pressure on hospitals.

As of Thursday, there are over 10,000 patients in B.C.’s hospitals, according to Dix. The centres look to help free up space in the coming weeks to support expected increases in patients.

“Demand for hospital care is high. British Columbia traditionally experiences an increase in hospitalizations in January as people access care after the holiday period,” said an information bulletin by the Ministry of Health.

The centres will be in place for at least six weeks and will ensure “dedicated leadership teams are reviewing hospital bed availability and identifying solutions to ease emergency department congestion.”

“These actions increase patient flow so that the most vulnerable patients, including those who need critical care, get the care they need,” said the bulletin.

The province utilized the centres throughout its response to the pandemic, and during wildfires and extreme weather events.

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Tre Lopushinsky is the News Director at Energeticcity.ca, and a NAIT broadcasting graduate. His love for local journalism started in Lloydminster, where he realized the importance of covering issues/topics for smaller municipalities. He is also the co-host of Before The Peace, highlighting Indigenous voices in the North Peace. In his off time, Tre is yelling at his tv while watching pro wrestling, MMA, and basketball.