Staffing shortages, access to personal protective equipment still a focus for BC Nurses Union

BC Nurses Union President Christine Sorensen stated our province continues to have the lowest ratio of nurses to population in the country.

Sorensen brought the issue to light once again as its National Nurses Week in Canada.

The issue is of great concern in the north where our region has 25% fewer nurses when compared to the rest of BC.

This often puts a huge strain on the current staff at Prince George’s University Hospital.

“Right now at UHNBC, you do not have enough nurses to manage your critical care areas like the ICU or many of your patients go from all over the north to care for that either have COVID or are in more complex situations.”

“They are often caring for more patients than can safely be cared for and unfortunately that leads to exhaustion, physically and mentally and nurses are burning out,” Sorensen said.

Sorensen mentioned there are more students than ever applying to nursing programs in the province, however, the government needs to fund more education seats.

In addition, keeping young nurses is a challenge as they often feel overwhelmed by the job.

“And many leave the profession within a year or two to go find other employment that is safer, has a better work-life balance, doesn’t create moral distress and so, that is our biggest issue.”

Nurses continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic’s third wave dealing with issues like burnout and declining mental health.

Sorensen is continually in the ear of Premier John Horgan and the NDP to give medical professionals like nurses better access to personal protective equipment after the BC Centre for Disease Control confirmed heightened concerns surrounding airborne transmission of COVID-19.

“And with that, comes the higher level of needed protection especially indoors and in our workplaces where we are exposed to COVID. We are calling on the government to give nurses unfettered access to personal protective equipment that nurses deem that they need to keep themselves safe.”