The head of the B.C. Nurses Union says the responsibility for on-going overcrowding at Abbotsford Regional Hospital is from failures by the health authority.
Gayle Duteil says it’s been nearly impossible to keep nurses in the emergency room department because of a poorly managed, toxic work environment.
“30 nursing positions short for 18 to 24 months. 30 new nurses come in and as fast as can happen 30 nurses go out.”
Duteil says the situation is so bad contractors from Ontario are being flown in for short-term contracts at about four-times the cost of a local nurse.
She is calling on Fraser Health Board Chair Karen Maddy to visit the hospital and see what is really happening.
This, following two incidences within the past month where families continue to look for answers after their loved ones died following treatment at the hospital.
Fraser Health President and CEO Michael Marchbank admits there are 30 vacancies in the Abbotsford ER, but says they’re training 16 new nurses, with another nine due back from leave in coming months.
“Two years ago we increased the number of training spots that we have for specialty nurses from 268 to 400, we are training nurses in Abbotsford’s ER. We have nine nurses completing their specialty training this spring, and they will return, we have another seven complete in December.”
In the meantime, he says they’re filling the hole with casual and cross-trained nurses.
“Nurses who are trained to provide services that apply in the emergency department, such as surgical nurses, we also use agency nurses who are qualified in emergency care.”
Marchbank says patients should be confident visiting the ER, where he says wait times to see a doctor there are among the lowest in B.C.
As for the recent deaths, he says he sees no link to staffing shortages.
One of those cases is under investigation, while the officials are still determining cause of death in the other.