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Eagle Ridge Hospital: A case study in B.C.’s health-care crisis


A large crowd of nurses rallied in Port Moody Thursday afternoon to draw attention to the staffing crisis there, but their concerns for Eagle Ridge Hospital apply to virtually every health-care facility in the province.

Leaders from the BC Nurses’ Union raised concerns about critically-low staffing levels impacting the mental and physical well-being of personnel, as well as the care available to patients relying on them for medical attention.

“We know that when you raise these concerns you risk being disrespected, dismissed, or disciplined,” said Tristan Newby, a registered nurse and regional council member for the Simon Fraser region. “You are not alone.”

Union vice president, Adriane Gear, reiterated that sentiment which has been expressed to CTV News multiple times by a variety of employees in the public health-care system.

“We are in this community because nurses working at this hospital cannot speak the truth because they will be disciplined,” she said, which was answered by cries of, “Shame!” from her colleagues.


The BCNU claimed that the emergency department at Eagle Ridge is running with only half the nurses it should have at minimum, with a quarter of those on shift contracted from for-profit staffing agencies that the province is increasingly relying on to prop up the system. 

Newby said some nurses have been compelled to work 26 hour shifts to avoid the kinds of service disruptions seen at hospitals in rural and remote communities.

“Fraser Health is going to herculean efforts to avoid an urban emergency department experiencing intermittent closures and this is dangerous,” he said.

In response, Fraser Health acknowledged that the hospital's emergency department has been struggling in recent months, but claimed they “typically average 70 per cent staffing to baseline” and that they use staff contracted from agencies as a last resort as they “continue to attempt to hire or staff internally to limit the length of the agency assignment.”

In an email, Scott Brolin, Executive Director of New Westminster and Tri-Cities Health Services, revealed that they are shuffling staff between that hospital, Royal Columbian and Port Moody Urgent and Primary Care Centre, noting “It is not our standard practice to ask nursing staff to work a 26-hour shift.” 


Health Minister Adrian Dix has repeatedly denied that health-care workers are muzzled or face repercussions for speaking up about toxic workplaces, working conditions, or matters of public safety and has often pointed to the international exodus of workers from the health-care field when asked about staffing shortages. 

But Gear shot down that talking point, directly addressing Dix and the premier, insisting that they “not blame the current staffing crisis on this pandemic. The pandemic has exposed the situation, it has exacerbated it, but the pandemic did not create this crisis.”

The BC Nurses Union is in the process of negotiating a new contract with the province. Top Stories

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