Emergency room departments at seven Nova Scotia hospitals are temporarily closing this week due to a shortage of physicians.

“I’m nervous that it’s going to take something really serious to happen for it to end,” Sheet Harbour resident Sidney Kenney told CTV Atlantic about the ongoing issue.

Terry Havlik also lives in the rural community.

“I had a heart attack about 16 months ago,” he told CTV Atlantic.

If Havlik’s blood pressure gets too high, he’s supposed to head straight to the ER. But the ER at the local Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital has already faced multiple closures this summer and will be closed again on July 30 and 31. The next closest ER is at Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital, which is about an hour’s drive away, though that hospital has also faced recent ER closures.

“I’ve played Russian roulette with myself,” Havlik said of his blood pressure. “Is it really bad? Is it going to go down?”

Emergency department closures have been plaguing Nova Scotia’s health system for years. Summer is particularly challenging for the province, when a lack of emergency doctors to cover shifts coupled with summer vacations make it particular challenging to properly staff ERs.

This week, ERs at seven different hospitals in the province will be closed for anywhere from one day to more than a week.

“The problem is that we have a lack of resources,” Tim Halman, PC MLA for Dartmouth East, told CTV Atlantic. “We have a lack of human resources and the government needs to work with our doctors to attract and retain more frontline workers here to the province.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority says they are actively trying to find more doctors to fill vacancies. Local residents, however, say that their concern is only growing.

“(In the) Sheet Harbour area, there’s a lot of resource extraction in the way of fishing, farming, mining and forestry,” Havlik said. “These are all occupations that have the possibility of having a serious accident.”

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown