B.C. Nurses’ Union is urging the province to address the violence nurses are facing at work as well as a staffing shortage that’s fueling widespread burnout among workers. (Black Press Media files)

B.C. Nurses’ Union is urging the province to address the violence nurses are facing at work as well as a staffing shortage that’s fueling widespread burnout among workers. (Black Press Media files)

‘Nurses are giving up’: Union calls on province to address violence, staff shortages

Top issues were made known this week at B.C. Nurses’ Union annual convention, which saw 500 nurses attend virtually

B.C. nurses are calling on the provincial government to address the violence they’re facing at work and staffing shortages that are fueling widespread burnout amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issues were made known this week at the British Columbia Nurses’ Union annual convention, which saw 500 nurses attend virtually.

“Nothing should go back to normal,” said union president and nurse Christine Sorensen, who noted the dual public health crises nurses are battling on the front lines of.

She said “normal wasn’t working” even prior to the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid crisis – both of which have threatened the lives of millions of people in B.C.

“If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson.”

PHOTOS: Nurses protest violence in workplace with drive-by rally across Fraser Valley

Growing shortage of nurses

Nurses have begun to put pressure on their local legislators to implement the changes necessary to retain the number of nurses currently needed to address the patient demand at B.C. hospitals.

More than 1,400 workers have already made COVID-19 claims with WorkSafeBC and taken time off of work, Sorenson said, depleting the province’s shortening supply of nurses.

On top of that, 40 per cent of the nurses in B.C. are eligible to retire within the next four years and 60 per cent are showing early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Across the board, more nurses are becoming victims of more episodes of verbal, physical and sexual assault from ill and aggravated patients,” said Sorensen.

In 2019, an Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) nurse was struck by a patient wielding a dumbbell.

“The nurse was assaulted so badly that they had to be assessed in the emergency room,” Sorensen said. The worker went on medical leave while she recovered from the attack.

RELATED: Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where a nurse was attacked by a patient in February 2019. (Black Press files)

Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where a nurse was attacked by a patient in February 2019. (Black Press files)

21 B.C. ERs identified violence hot spots

That same year, the British Columbia Nurses’ Union worked to identify 21 hot spot emergency rooms where nurses experience the most violence, one was ARH.

Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, has so far “done nothing about it,” said Sorensen.

“The numbers of nurses going on sick leave, short-term illness or long-term disability because of injuries they face at work is baffling.”

The union is urging the ministry to implement patient safety officers in hospitals provincewide to deescalate patients showing potential signs of aggression.

“Health care workers need to be able to focus on the work they were trained to do,” Sorensen said.

Following successful trial runs at several hospitals, safety officers already exist and support health care workers in Kelowna and Victoria emergency rooms.

“Nurses are the life support of B.C.’s hospitals but many are giving up.”

READ ALSO: B.C. nurse 1st in province to die from COVID-19 complications



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC HealthHospitalsnurse

Just Posted

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read