The BC Nurses’ Union is sounding the alarm about a move to convert children’s care beds at Abbotsford Regional Hospital for adult use.

The nurses warn the move could mean that kids will be squeezed into the hospital’s overflowing inpatient area, or worse, be forced to trek outside the community for care.

“This is the only pediatric unit serving the East Fraser Valley,” said union president Debra McPherson. “The rest are small; in Langley [there are] five beds, generally full.”

The Fraser Health authority acknowledges it’s converting eight beds normally used for pediatric daycare surgery, but insists the change is temporary.

Brook Richardson, executive director of Abbotsford Regional Medical Care, also said the conversion is a necessary measure to try and ease pressure at the hospital.

“When the pediatric population’s needs exceed the adults, then those beds will once again be returned to the pediatric population,” said Richardson.

The BCNU organized a Family Day event Monday to draw attention to the decision, and a number of concerned parents told CTV News they were outraged about the move.

“The community needs to start talking about this, they need to know that their kids could be sent elsewhere,” said parent Susie Clark.

Fraser Health has been struggling to reduce congestion at hospitals for years, and recently completed a 150-day campaign to reduce wait times and average lengths of stay.

It failed to reach a target of 61 per cent of emergency room patients who were admitted within 10 hours of entering the hospital.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Julia Foy