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 groundbreaking ceremony for Cluculz Lake’s new fire hall will take place Tuesday, June 22. The current fire hall is able to only store one apparatus. (Photo submitted)
New fire hall on the way for Cluculz Lake

Approximate $950,000 facility anticipated to be completed by this fall

A cell tower is pictured in rural Ontario on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Connected future for Saik’uz First Nation

Cellular tower to be constructed by Telus within the community

Nechako River. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
So far so good, but officials keeping tabs on Nechako River streamflow

Vanderhoof Mayor said typically if there is flooding, it occurs toward the end of May and early June

Fishers prefer landscapes with large areas of connected forest, said the Forest Practices Board. (Loney Dickson photo)
Logging continuing to impact fisher habitat in B.C.

Forest Practices Board concludes investigation near Bobtail Mountain Provincial Park

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
All of B.C. will eventually ease out of COVID-19 restrictions at same time: Henry

People who have received two doses of a vaccine can’t yet return to post-pandemic activities with each other, she says

Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp (9) and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) watch an incoming shot during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
‘Very jealous’: Canadian teams can’t take advantage of NHL’s relaxed COVID-19 rules

League eased some tight COVID-19 health and safety protocols over the weekend for fully vaccinated clubs

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add 6 seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read