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

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Port McNeill average priced home to pay $12 more in taxes

Residential property taxes in Port McNeill are going up

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Opening ceremony in remembrance of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day hosted by Quatsino First Nation. (Quatsino First Nation Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Quatsino First Nation goes live for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Day

May 5 is when the message behind all the red dresses hanging comes into sharpest focus

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council.
Port Hardy council to send RCMP officer a letter of congratulations

Mayor Dennis Dugas said Corp. Chris Voller ‘obviously earned it and he did a great job up here’

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read