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Richmond Hospital nurses quitting due to overwork, stress: BCNU president

Lack of resources impacting patient care in B.C. hospitals
Richmond Hospital Emergency.

Overworked and lack of staff are only two of many reasons some nurses are quitting Richmond Hospital, according to Aman Grewal, president of the BC Nurses Union.

Grewal said a nursing crisis has been going on for decades and the pandemic has only highlighted that fact.

 “We know that nurses are quitting at Richmond General Hospital due to overwork, stress and the lack of nursing staff available to help with the workload,” said Grewal.

“Our nurses are tired everywhere. We hear it locally, on the Island and in the Interior.”

According to a recent survey conducted for the union, 35 per cent of B.C. nurses surveyed said they are considering leaving the profession in the next two years due to the pandemic.

Grewal said the lack of staff in the ER and in various departments has resulted in nurses being redeployed throughout the hospital.

She explained that nurses are continuously being moved around from their original units to another unit where there is a need for more staff, which adds to the mental exhaustion nurses face.

“This is happening everywhere. Nurses are taken from one area to better support one area in dire situations.”

The high number of deaths nurses have to see, especially in ER, is also contributing to their mental exhaustion and burnout, said Grewal.

“(Prior to COVID-19) you may see one death every couple weeks, but now at times you could be seeing several in one shift,” she added.

As well, the lack of staff resources and heavy workload may potentially also cause physical injury to nurses, such as sprains or strains while working without sufficient rest.

Finally, the lack of resources is impacting patient care, said Grewal.

Pre-pandemic, one nurse would attend to four patients on average. Now, nurses are attending up to six or seven patients.

“This limits the time nurses can spend with their patients in order for them to get to everyone, and we can’t provide the best care for patients (this) way,” said Grewal.

In order for staffing needs to be met, the provincial government projected that B.C. needs close to 24,000 nurses in healthcare by 2029.

BCNU is calling on the government for a comprehensive plan to recruit nurses now and for the future, while developing strategies to retain those already in the profession.