B.C. Nurses’ Union is urging the province to address the violence nurses are facing at work as well as a staffing shortage that’s fueling widespread burnout among workers. (Black Press Media files)

B.C. Nurses’ Union is urging the province to address the violence nurses are facing at work as well as a staffing shortage that’s fueling widespread burnout among workers. (Black Press Media files)

‘Nurses are giving up’: Union calls on province to address violence, staff shortages

Top issues were made known this week at B.C. Nurses’ Union annual convention, which saw 500 nurses attend virtually

B.C. nurses are calling on the provincial government to address the violence they’re facing at work and staffing shortages that are fueling widespread burnout amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issues were made known this week at the British Columbia Nurses’ Union annual convention, which saw 500 nurses attend virtually.

“Nothing should go back to normal,” said union president and nurse Christine Sorensen, who noted the dual public health crises nurses are battling on the front lines of.

She said “normal wasn’t working” even prior to the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid crisis – both of which have threatened the lives of millions of people in B.C.

“If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson.”

PHOTOS: Nurses protest violence in workplace with drive-by rally across Fraser Valley

Growing shortage of nurses

Nurses have begun to put pressure on their local legislators to implement the changes necessary to retain the number of nurses currently needed to address the patient demand at B.C. hospitals.

More than 1,400 workers have already made COVID-19 claims with WorkSafeBC and taken time off of work, Sorenson said, depleting the province’s shortening supply of nurses.

On top of that, 40 per cent of the nurses in B.C. are eligible to retire within the next four years and 60 per cent are showing early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Across the board, more nurses are becoming victims of more episodes of verbal, physical and sexual assault from ill and aggravated patients,” said Sorensen.

In 2019, an Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) nurse was struck by a patient wielding a dumbbell.

“The nurse was assaulted so badly that they had to be assessed in the emergency room,” Sorensen said. The worker went on medical leave while she recovered from the attack.

RELATED: Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where a nurse was attacked by a patient in February 2019. (Black Press files)

Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where a nurse was attacked by a patient in February 2019. (Black Press files)

21 B.C. ERs identified violence hot spots

That same year, the British Columbia Nurses’ Union worked to identify 21 hot spot emergency rooms where nurses experience the most violence, one was ARH.

Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, has so far “done nothing about it,” said Sorensen.

“The numbers of nurses going on sick leave, short-term illness or long-term disability because of injuries they face at work is baffling.”

The union is urging the ministry to implement patient safety officers in hospitals provincewide to deescalate patients showing potential signs of aggression.

“Health care workers need to be able to focus on the work they were trained to do,” Sorensen said.

Following successful trial runs at several hospitals, safety officers already exist and support health care workers in Kelowna and Victoria emergency rooms.

“Nurses are the life support of B.C.’s hospitals but many are giving up.”

READ ALSO: B.C. nurse 1st in province to die from COVID-19 complications



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC HealthHospitalsnurse

Just Posted

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

Surrey Libraries will host a series of free contests and programs for teenagers this summer. (Malin Jordan photo)
Surrey Libraries offering series of free summer programs for teens

Writing contests, virtual programs scheduled throughout summer

Emergency crews responded to a large truck fire under the Alex Fraser Bridge around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Christine Tobias/Twitter photo)
Dog dies in truck fire under Alex Fraser Bridge

No people were injured in blaze that consumed two semi-trucks around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

Most Read