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

Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets

Greater Victoria survey shows third of respondents did not pay, or partially paid rent for April

Survey of 70 respondents says 40 per cent expect they will not be able to pay May rent

Vikes Maffia, Mollenhauer among annual athletic award winners

UVic Vikes release annual athletic awards

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

BC Transit extends free fare, installs vinyl barriers in some buses

Free fare will now be offered until April 30

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read