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“Patient care is at risk,”: BCNU President on nurse exhaustion during fifth-wave

“Nurses haven’t had a break in two years.”

That’s according to BC Nurses Union President Aman Grewal who stated the pandemic has highlighted how short-staffed hospitals are across the province.

She mentioned in some cases, there is an eight-year waiting list to get into nursing school.

Grewal told Vista Radio with hospitalizations soaring once again due to the Omicron variant, quality patient care is at risk.

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“An ICU nurse usually cares for one patient and now they are having to look after up to two and a half, three and sometimes up to four or five times their patient load.”

“The more distress that they are feeling, the anguish as well as the responsibility and the burden that is upon them – nurses go into the profession to care for people and they have been doing this for two years now and have not had a break.”

She added nurses are under immense pressure to balance work and family responsibilities, but they don’t often have enough downtime to recharge the batteries.

“They have aging parents, grandparents and they are the sandwiched generation many of them. They also have young children to look after as well.”

“Usually you would have days off to recuperate, get some rest and they are not getting that. On their days off, they are getting called multiple times. I heard one nurse who had commented that she had 73 calls on her day off.”

In addition, Northern Health isn’t out of the woods when it comes to the Omicron wave.

According to the BCCDC’s Covid-19 dashboard, 29 people in the north are battling the virus in hospital, nine of those are in critical care.

However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to no rest on our laurels.

“It hasn’t quite peaked there but when it does, as what has happened in the past waves where patients were having to be flown down to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. That may be the case again,” added Grewal.

Furthermore, the province has nurses who were trained in other countries that haven’t been given the green light to help out.

“We have internationally-educated nurses who are already in our country and have been waiting up to a year to become registered here in our province. We need to make the system easier for them, they may have been trained in the US and taken the same tests that our Canadian nurses have taken, yet they are not getting their credentials.”

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