The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) is asking their MLAs to address several key challenges impacting the province’s health care system.
“By sharing stories and specific issues from their ridings, MLAs are hearing about the harsh reality faced by nurses and patients who reside and work in their constituency,” says BCNU President, Aman Grewal.
“Although there are serious overreaching issues throughout the health-care system, such as a critical shortage of nurses, continued exposure to violence in the workplace, and the worrying decline of mental and physical health among nurses, our goal is to give our patients a voice and illustrate the impact these issues are having on their care.”
Tracey Jonker, Interim Regional Chair for the BCNU, says the shortage is being felt in the North, where there are nearly 500 vacant nursing positions.
“We’ve had numerous hospitals from Fort Saint James, to Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, many communities go on diversion, Mackenzie went on diversion 16 times alone in December,” Jonker explained.
“So that means the members of those communities have to travel to various distances to other communities. That’s one problem, there’s staffing problems, workload problems, there’s so many issues right now.”
Jonker said one of the recruitment and retention have been big issues in the North, and it’s a problem that has been going on for several years.
“I remember I graduated 17 years ago and we were working short then, but now we’re at a crisis level,” Jonker said.
Some solutions that Jonker said might help bring more nurses to Northern BC included giving preference to students who are willing to stay in the North, and developing bridging programs to make becoming an RN easier.
She also mention the number of senior citizens that are sitting in hospital in the North.
“At UHNBC alone, there are approximately 70 senior citizens waiting for placement,” Jonker said.
“I’m going to say this is happening in every hospital, there are many senior citizens sitting in hosptial, taking up beds for acute care patients. These members of our society deserve to be in a home that is set up for them.”
According to a survey done in May 2021, 35% of nurses said the experience of the pandemic made them more likely to leave nursing in the next two years. Jonker said this number is probably much higher now.
“I’ve known a handful of nurses who are like ‘I’m out, I can’t take it anymore’, they’re taking jobs in other sectors, they’re just burnt out,” Jonker said.