I would like to commend Judy Douglas on her letter to the editor “Every Day is Code Purple at VJH” that appeared in your paper March 14.
I agree that our health care professionals are providing the best care they can under difficult circumstances; that being overcrowding, short staffing and too few care beds in Vernon.
For the past few months, I have been meeting with nurses and health care providers who work at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and in the Vernon community.
The stories they relate are truly a concern; extended shifts of 16, 20 and even 24 hours, patients cared for in hallways, being called to work on every day off, admitting patients to wards with pressure sores from spending too long on emergency room stretchers, sending patients home early even though they continue to need care in hospital, sending patients out on day passes so that their bed can be assigned to another patient, cancelling surgeries and being asked to work in areas without the training or orientation to provide care safely.
Nurses are under extreme moral distress everyday at VJH. It is because they are professionals that they continue to proved excellent care for patients while ignoring their own needs and the needs of their families. They agree to come into work on their days off because they know their colleagues are desperate for their help.
Ms. Douglas inquires where the nursing staff will come from if the two floors of the tower are finished with additional beds. In April, a few hundred nurses will graduate across the Interior from university programs. Most will be unable to find permanent employment with IHA. Of the few that are offered work, the positions will be casual, with not enough hours to help consolidate their skills or provide enough income to live. Many will opt to move to other provinces or the U.S. to find employment.
Christy Clark promises to focus her government on improving services to families and children. Her first step was to increase the minimum wage in B.C. An admirable first step. The next step is for her to improve health care services for families, children and seniors.
I believe Vernon would welcome a visit from our new premier announcing that the new hospital tower will be completed with an additional 60 beds and our nursing students will be hired to care for the families of this community.
Regional Chair Thompson-North Okanagan
B.C. Nurse’s Union