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

Nanaimo-Ladysmith navigating back-to-school uncertainty

Start of school initially set for Sept. 8 pushed back to Sept. 10

Federal Green leadership hopeful brings eco-socialist campaign to Nanaimo

Dimitri Lascaris one of nine candidates running for party leader

Garbage truck knocks down lamp post onto pickup in north Nanaimo

Emergency crews respond to Dickinson Crossing plaza mall Friday afternoon

Woman reunited with wedding ring she lost in Nanaimo

Qualicum Beach woman ‘over the moon’ after getting ring back, say RCMP

Artists adding finishing touches to new downtown Nanaimo murals

Three outdoor art works commissioned by Hub City Walls festival to be completed by Saturday

Artists adding finishing touches to new downtown Nanaimo murals

Three outdoor art works commissioned by Hub City Walls festival to be completed by Saturday

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 12

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Most Read