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

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Infamous Arrowview Hotel is gone, opening up a new view in Port Alberni

Derelict hotel has had a dubious history in the past few years, from fire to demolition delays

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Alberni stores lend a hand to Girl Guides by selling cookies

Local store owners come forward to sell cookies when in-person sales halted over COVID-19

City of Port Alberni answers questions about COVID-19

Radio show will feature Mayor Sharie Minions and Dr. Paul Hasselback

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Saanich mayor receives his foster bees through pollinator rental program

‘I feel like I’m an adoptive father,’ Fred Haynes says of his rented mason bee colony

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read