01/31/2013 10:37 EST | Updated 04/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Princeton, B.C., seeks health care crisis solutions

Community leaders in Princeton, B.C., are turning to outside experts to help solve a health care crisis in the town.

The community has seen health care services decline over the past two decades. The most pressing issue is the hospital's emergency room, which is closed four nights a week.

Resident Karen Blomme calls it a health care nightmare. When her husband suffered an early morning heart attack last year, they found the emergency room’s doors closed.

"I was amazed that they turned us away, that they wouldn't help us in any way at all."

The town has since recruited a new doctor but the emergency room is still closed four nights a week.

This week, community leaders consulted with UBC Okanagan researchers to find health care solutions to other problems.

"Making it easier to travel to appointments; communication with specialists so that they in Kelowna know what our services are here so people aren't held unnecessarily long in the hospital, that kind of thing,” said Coun. Marilyn Harkness.

The researchers will sit down with Princeton's medical community before issuing their recommendations.

“We feel incredibly optimistic that this process that we've been through has given us some very, very positive things to work with,” said Ed Staples, who helped organize the session.

UBC researchers are expected to release their recommendations in the next few weeks.