BC Nurses’ Union President Christine Sorensen says nurses are concerned about their capacity to manage large numbers of people who may present at emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms. (Mike Koozmin/Black Press Media file)

‘We are already working short’: B.C. nurses concerned about staffing amid COVID-19

‘There is no capacity in the system to accept large numbers of patients,’ nurses’ union says

The BC Nurses’ Union is concerned about the capacity of the provincial health care system to respond to the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, due to understaffing and overcrowding at emergency rooms and long-term care facilities.

“We are very concerned about our capacity as a health care system to manage large numbers of people who may be presenting in emergency rooms with symptoms,” BCNU president Christine Sorensen told Black Press Media. “There is no capacity in the system to accept large numbers of patients.”

B.C. nurses are already working “enormous amount of overtime” and “across the province emergency rooms are often at capacity,” Sorensen added.

ALSO READ: Public health agency weighs stronger COVID-19 protection for front-line workers

She said the union has been expressing its concerns to medical health officers in twice-weekly meetings, but so far, aside from signage going up in emergency rooms advising people to put on a mask, notify a nurse and move into isolation if they present with respiratory symptoms, discussions have not led to much change on the ground.

“Our emergency rooms are full. It is difficult to find isolation rooms,” Sorensen said.

“Planning is good … but for the nurses, we are already working short, we are already working copious amounts of overtime … and nurses are concerned about the capacity of our system to be able to manage.

“We have plans in place. Now we have to move toward activation of those plans.”

RELATED: SARS lessons help Canada prep for COVID-19, but hospital capacity a worry

In a briefing on Feb. 21, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam said hospital capacity is a “critical aspect” of preparedness for a potential coronavirus outbreak.

“If we can delay the impact of the coronavirus until a certain period, when there’s less influenza for example, that would also be very helpful,” Tam said.

Sorenson said people can also help by washing hands, staying home if they are sick and calling ahead if they plan to go to a health facility with respiratory symptoms.

But ideally, she said systemic issues such as understaffing and overcrowding can be addressed.

“We do have a lot of people who are very committed to working to take care of patients in this country,” she added.

“We’re doing the best we can.”

ALSO READ: Tensions rise as U.S. death toll from coronavirus reaches 9



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crown Lease secured for land for new Loon Lake fire hall

Construction on hall to replace one destroyed in 2017 expected to start next year

Psalm 23 Society gives hope to people, gives back to community

‘When someone reaches out we want to be there for them’

Save Our Summer concert tour coming to Ashcroft, Clinton, Lytton

Los Borrachos embarks on first Canadian tour to bring free concerts to B.C. communities

Masks will be mandatory on all BC Transit buses from Aug. 24

New rule will apply to community bus serving Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton

Fire and pandemic haven’t derailed Clinton store’s three year plan

Hunnie’s Mercantile, which started in 2017, is ‘dead on target’ with its plans to expand

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Most Read