KAMLOOPS, B.C. – The B.C. Nurses’ Union says PPE supply levels remain dangerously low around B.C., while health care workers make up 21 percent of B.C.’s positive COVID-19 results.
The Union says it is seriously concerned that provincial health employers may be failing to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 effectively.
Since March 20, the Union has received more than 1,700 complaints from Nurses around the Province that are concerned about the lack of adequate PPE. Of those, 142 were from nurses in the Northern Health region.
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During a virtual town hall for residents of Northern Health on April 22, 2020, Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich said our region currently has enough PPE.
BCNU president Christine Sorensen says they question that statement. “There does not appear to be an adequate supply of PPE. In some facilities, it appears just in time. A site may only have one or two days, as that supply is being utilized, it is then replaced just in time.”
Nurses are also reporting that some of the PPE they have been provided with does not meet provincial standards.
“Gowns that rip or tear, gowns that do not cover the whole body. They have to re-use face shields and goggles, that’s something they have never had to do before.”
Nurses also have had to request N95 masks, something the Union says delays patient care and places nurses at risk.
The Union also says some hospitals haven’t installed plexiglass on triage desks, something that you see in most grocery stores.
“Respirators, masks and other PPE are meant to be the last line of defense for care providers after all other control measures are in place,” explains Sorensen. “The fact that some hospital emergency rooms still have triage desks without plexiglass barriers, like the ones now present in grocery stores and food processing plants, is quite simply beyond me.”
During Monday’s press conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry said 428 Healthcare workers, or 21 percent of the provincial total, were diagnosed with the virus, and one healthcare worker has died from COVID-19 as of April 28.