(With files by Will Peters-MyPGNow)
Some strong statements were made in front of the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC) this afternoon, bringing into focus the severe shortage of nurses and healthcare workers, among other issues, across northern B.C.
President of the union, Aman Grewal, said in a speech that “the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse” and that Prince George is “in danger of losing the Intensive Care Unit.”
She told My PG Now that “we are here for safe patient care. We are here to advocate for the community and our nurses, who are working under extreme conditions.”
At times this year, the UHNBC has been operating at a 125% capacity, while being staggeringly short staffed.
“We are seeing staffing at 50% of a full compliment,” Grewal said, not only in Prince George, but in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, and Mackenzie as well.
She also said this short staffed, overworked, and highly backlogged system is putting some employees in harms way, being berated by patients and the public, and sometimes put alone in dangerous situations.
It wasn’t necessary to go back farther than yesterday (September 22) for an example.
In a Vancouver woman’s hospital, many fearful patients and employees called 911 reporting a patient with a knife had chased staff and tried to break in to the nursery. She was arrested in the hospital.
As if on que, five minutes later a very angry and vocal man made his way into the rally and started yelling at nurses and union members present about his own issues with the system, while Adriane Gear, the Vice President of the union, was giving a speech.
After the outburst, Grewal took the mic back and said “this is what our nurses face. We have people coming and attacking our nurses verbally and physically. This is unacceptable, could you imagine a nurse in a unit by themselves who has to experience that?”
“It saddens me, that highly educated health care professionals must stand here and gather and ask for public support” said Gear, who also mentioned she has been a nurse since the mid 90’s and has never seen a staffing situation so “dismal.”
She said nurses have been quitting or moving on mass across the north, unable to keep up and feeling fed up and unsafe at work, students joining the workforce fresh out of school are overwhelmed, and more nurses are planning on leaving if nothing is done.
Grewal says they are calling on the provincial government to “get to work and fix this.”
“Fund more staffing, get more students into the schools so that we can produce more nurses, look at innovative, creative ideas. We used to have nursing schools in hospitals, diploma nursing, expedited courses.”
You can find out more information on the BCNU here.