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

New Haislakala Language Revitalization Program aims to preserve and revitalize Haisla language

Haisla elders will be recorded speaking in Haislakala, with hopes of collecting 12,000-17,000 words.

“We’re not busting ghosts”: local paranormal investigators check out PF Bistro

Paranormal North Coast British Columbia recently checked out PF Bistro at City Centre Mall.

“Bears that test the limits”: Kitimat sees higher number of bears than average year

Bears aren’t necessarily more assertive this year, there’s just a higher number than average.

Search and Rescue and RCMP investigate after abandoned kayak found on Kitimat River

KSAR and Kitimat RCMP confirmed the owner lost the recently-discovered kayak a couple of weeks ago.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

B.C. announces funding to support post-secondary students with disabilities

The province is investing $275,000 in the new BCcampus website

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Northern Indigenous cannabis cultivation facility to supply over 60 private B.C. stores

Construction to soon resume on Nations Cannabis in Burns Lake

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Most Read