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

Kelli Paddon, on screen in centre, is sworn in as the Chilliwack-Kent MLA by Premier John Horgan on Nov. 24, 2020. (Screenshot)
Coulter and Paddon sworn in as newly minted MLAs for Chilliwack, Chilliwack-Kent

NDP Premier John Horgan swears in 57 new MLAs, a majority of which are women

(File Photo)
COVID-19: District of Kent responds to provincial health restrictions

CRCC limits schedule, Municipal Hall offers alternate services for those unable to wear masks

The seats in the Chilliwack Cultural Centre’s theatre will be empty for the time being with provincial health orders in effect. (chilliwackculturalcentre.ca)
Chilliwack Cultural Centre shuts doors to observe provincial health orders

While the 2021 schedule is unaffected so far, refunds are being offered for 2020 events

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:06 a.m.
Early-morning crash on Highway 1 has morning commuters in gridlock

Westbound crash occurred in Langley, west of 264th Street; left lane blocked

The Small Works display features work from local artists on wood panels. Panels are available at Ranger Station Art Gallery (File Photo)
Small Works submission deadline approaching

Ranger Station Art Gallery seeks local artists for upcoming display

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Police lights
Vancouver elementary school locked down after unknown man walks into classroom

Police arrested the man and sent him for a psych evaluation

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Tabor Home in Abbotsford records 8 deaths and 124 COVID-19 cases

63 per cent of residents at long-term-care facility have tested positive

Most Read