Hospitals in BC Face Staff Shortages Amid Omicron

Internal documents obtained by CTV News Vancouver paint a picture of dire conditions for one of BC’s busiest hospitals, as health professionals say other facilities are just as tense.

A memo prepared by Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC) titled “EOC: Situation Report” describes that Vancouver General Hospital is facing “critical staff shortages due to staff becoming ill from community exposure” to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Wednesday’s memo goes on to say that the facility had a “noticeable increase in COVID presentations in the past 48 hours” and was operating at more than 100 percent capacity. It also warns that the staff of doctors for COVID-19 is “weak”.

According to the document, the hospital is developing a daily dashboard to monitor shortages of nurses and paramedics.

It noted that only three doctors were scheduled to work in the VGH COVID ward next week, when eight or nine are needed. None were scheduled for the following week.

Late Friday morning, some 2,000 doctors classified as “Vancouver Acute Physicians” received an urgent bulletin on behalf of the hospital’s senior medical staff, pleading with them to sign up for services.

“Today’s COVID count is 70 compared to 6 on December 27, 2021. The majority of admissions have occurred in the past four days,” they wrote to hospital staff.

“We need more help as soon as possible.”

At the time the senior staff sent the memo, there were only four COVID physicians for the next two weeks and one for the last week of January; they reiterated that they will need at least eight or nine doctors in the next two weeks, but “if the COVID count goes above 100, we’ll need more.”

COVID-POSITIVE HEALTH CARE POSSIBLE?

The HEMBC analysis noted that with the doctor’s shortage, even in the emergency department, they were “waiting for further (public health) guidance on whether COVID-positive doctors could work in any capacity.”

CTV News asked provincial health official Dr. Bonnie Henry whether the county was at the time, and she downplayed the staffing situation and repeated comments she made on the matter last week.

“I’ve said this a few times, but I’ll say it again. We currently have workforce scheduling in the field of health, that’s been from the very beginning, we have principles that we use — things like calling people back from vacation and time off, extending hours, having people work in different areas,” Henry said.” One of the last resorts, if we get to the point where it jeopardizes the care of people, then we have an eligibility protocol.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said allowing health workers who were COVID-positive to remain in employment, as has been implemented in Quebec, was “something that could be considered at some point in the future.” He insisted it wasn’t necessary yet.

“That’s why we made the decision a few weeks ago that we would postpone non-urgent scheduled surgeries from January 4,” Dix said. “It comes at a price, but it’s one of the ways we need to reduce the number of people in the hospital and allows us to deploy our staff most effectively to address the conditions of the Omicron variant of concern.”

TOP HEALTH OFFICERS FRUSTRATING FRONTLINE EMPLOYEES

Sources tell CTV News that Surrey Memorial Hospital is in even worse shape than VGH, and earlier this week an intensivist and the BC Nurses Union described Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as in crisis mode, with 30 percent of nurses missing while the hospital operated at 109 hours. percent capacity.

Frontline health workers express their frustration, just as they did in previous waves of the pandemic, that the province’s top health officials are not adequately expressing to the public how fragile and weak the health care system is right now.

Late Friday morning, some 2,000 doctors classified as “Vancouver Acute Physicians” received an urgent bulletin on behalf of the hospital’s senior medical staff, pleading with them to sign up for services.

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