BC Nurses’ Union President Christine Sorensen says nurses are burnt out and exhausted amid the second wave of COVID-19. (Mike Koozmin/Black Press Media file)

BC Nurses’ Union President Christine Sorensen says nurses are burnt out and exhausted amid the second wave of COVID-19. (Mike Koozmin/Black Press Media file)

B.C. nurses plead with public to follow COVID-19 rules as hospitalizations climb

Nurses union says Surrey Memorial Hospital ICU has hit capacity but Fraser Health says it hasn’t

“Extremely anxious” and “burnt out” nurses are pleading with the public to do their part as hospitalizations related to COVID-19 climb across the province amid the second wave.

“Nurses are not robots, they’re not machines, they’re human beings that need to rest and recover in order to safely provide care,” said Christine Sorensen, president of the BC Nurses’ Union.

An increasing number of nurses have either contracted the virus or have to self-isolate due to COVID, she noted, “which is only pulling more nurses out of the health care system leaving more work for fewer nurses.”

“We are committed to providing the best quality care we can, and delivering patient care that is needed but there are too few of us. Nurses are getting sick – whether that’s becoming physically ill or getting psychologically impacted by this pandemic,” she said.

“I do know this weekend in Surrey Memorial Hospital, they are desperately pre-booking shifts, they are putting out call after call for nurses to go in and support their colleagues and these are nurses who have been working extended shifts already, and who are desperately needing those days of break in between their shifts to recover.”

READ MORE: 538 new infections, 1 death recorded as B.C. struggles with 50+ COVID outbreaks

ALSO READ: Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C

As of Thursday, Nov. 19 there were 217 individuals hospitalized related to COVID-19 in B.C., with 59 of those in intensive care, as the province’s active case count hit 6,929.

Sorensen urged the public to abide by public health restrictions and to stay home if sick, to ease pressure on the health care system before it hits a breaking point.

“We will get to a place where we do not have enough ICU beds, or hospital beds in general, and physicians will need to prioritize the most vulnerable patients and the most likely to recover from COVID for ICU beds. That’s a really difficult position for health care staff to be in. That is the moral distress that they face. It is a reality of the health care system when it’s under severe distress,” said Sorensen.

“We need everyone in the public to help us so we are not put in those positions of having to make those difficult choices or place ourselves or our colleagues or other patients at risk.”

While Fraser Health says Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit isn’t full, Sorensen said the union had “heard from nurses that the Surrey ICU is at capacity” and “really can’t manage an additional influx of patients.”

“The emergency room (at Surrey Memorial Hospital) is also seeing an influx in the number of patients coming in with COVID who are not only needing to be treated in the emergency room but be admitted to hospital or into the ICU,” Sorensen said. “It is a designated site to care for some of the most complex patients related to COVID in the Fraser Health region.”

In an emailed statement, Fraser Health told the Now-Leader the ICU in Surrey “continues to have capacity for patients who need that level of care” and “less than half of the patients in the intensive care unit are there for health reasons related to COVID-19.”

The health authority would not say how many beds the Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ICU has, how many are occupied or how many cases are COVID-related.

When the Now-Leader asked for that information, Fraser Health replied in an email with: “We don’t provide that level of data.”

Fraser Health says it is “managing our hospital capacity at this time and have the ability to increase our capacity as needed.”

The health authority adds that it has “found new ways to support patients throughout the region so that they have options to access care for non-emergency health concerns. In the community, Fraser Health has opened five urgent and primary care centres to provide better access to same-day urgent and primary care. In September, we launched Fraser Health Virtual Care which provides a gateway to phone and video conference-based health services, helping people find the right service in a timely manner from the comfort of their own home by calling 1-800-314-0999.”

Capacity and resources aside, Sorensen said nurses across the province are already “burning out.”

“They are exhausted and they see no end in sight.”

Sorensen says roughly 80 per cent of nurses report being concerned about contracting the virus, and she decried inadequate staffing levels and a “lack of unfettered access to personal protective equipment.”



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Col. Bryn Elliott is the new wing commander of 19 Wing Comox. Photo submitted
New wing commander at 19 Wing Comox

The ceremony was presided over virtually by the commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.

Comox council voted to change the speed limit from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr along a stretch of Lazo Road. Photo submitted
Speed limit change coming to Lazo Road in Comox

Racing, pedestrian safety issues presented to council

The new childcare centre on Denman Island opened in April. Photo, Comox Valley Schools
New Denman Island childcare facility opens

The facility offers 20 new licensed care spaces

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read