B.C. Nurses’ Union president Debra McPherson toured Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke on Aug. 25, where she met with Revelstoke nurses and called for more nurses in Revelstoke.
McPherson said that Revelstoke Mountain Resort has created demand for hospital services and also attracted young health professionals to the community. But without full-time employment, McPherson predicted nurses working on a casual basis would bail out, costing the community valuable personnel resources.
She said Interior Health (IH) staffing was “anemic” in general, and didn’t make financial sense. For example, McPherson said registered nurses were being used to cover care aide shifts due to staff shortages.
McPherson criticized an ongoing renovation project at the hospital, saying a new triage room near the hospital’s front entrance physically separated patients from the emergency room at the back. The result, said McPherson, is that nurses will have to walk back and forth across the hospital, leaving patients unattended.
Calling the renovation “totally nuts,” she said it was an example of Interior Health management not consulting with front-line workers when making decisions about on-the-ground services.
“I think that’s one of the great failures of health care management today,” McPherson said. “There’s a tendency not to ask the people who actually do the work what works, what works for them, what’s efficient, what will help them provide the best care.”
She said the IH management structure had become “siloed” with senior management positions proliferating while front-line staff struggled to maintain core services.
The new triage room also created staff and patient safety concerns, as nurses could be isolated in a small, confined room with demented, intoxicated or other potentially violent patients.
McPherson said the staffing levels at the hospital’s long-term care facility was inadequate, saying the patients “seemed subdued” due to lack of stimulation.
So, what is the BCNU going to do about the situation? McPherson said the union could employ techniques to “hit [IHA] in the pocketbook.” Examples included filing grievances and insisting on paperwork for any overtime. McPherson said BCNU had organized community health care campaigns in other Interior communities.
She joined other senior BCNU staff members on a bus tour through the IH health region.