The only hospital emergency room in Glace Bay is about to close for more than a month.

It's happening less than a year after Nova Scotia's premier promised to maintain ER services in the town and the news is not sitting well with people who live there.

The parking lot at the Glace Bay General today was full on a busy day Tuesday.

But for the next month, the emergency department here will be very quiet.  

“It's a scary time,” said one resident who went to the hospital Tuesday. “It really is a scary time.”

The ER closed at 4 p.m. and won't reopen until May 29 because they don't have enough doctors to staff it.

On the main street of Glace Bay, it was hard to find anyone happy with the news. 

“Well, I think it's lousy,” said one resident.

“That's totally ridiculous,” said another resident. “What are we supposed to do?”

The MLA for the area, Geoff MacLellan, says he's not happy with the situation either, but says his government's decision to expand the hospital will hopefully help with recruitment efforts. 

“I absolutely, fundamentally believe that the major infrastructure we’ll make the ER in Glace Bay will help the recruitment and retention piece,” MacLellan said. “That's in the works and something that's going to happen as soon as we possibly can.”

MacLellan says the priority for the Nova Scotia Health Authority is filling shifts in the ER department at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital first, which means closures elsewhere. He says once the expansions are in place, he's hopeful there will be enough physicians to cover the two ERs.

“It's a complex challenge, but there's no explaining it in a way that's acceptable to people,” MacLellan said. “When the ER is closed, it's a problem.”

The 43-day closure in Glace Bay is the longest for the hospital.

“There are family physicians who are choosing to no longer provide coverage in emergency departments as they may have done in the past, coupled with the fact that we have vacancies for full-time emergency physicians,” said NSHA spokesman Greg Boone. “That has put stress or strain on the system in relation to coverage.”

Boone says it's hard to predict whether lengthy closures like this will become the norm, as we head into the summer months and vacations.

An announcement was made here at the regional two weeks ago regarding the facilities expansion. MacLellan says we can expect an announcement about the government’s plans for Glace Bay in the next few weeks.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.