Nurses at Nanaimo Regional Hospital Warn the Emergency Room is at a Breaking Point

November 24, 2022
Vancouver Island’s busiest hospital sits overwhelmed and understaffed, creating dangerous and difficult working condition

Close to 200 ER nurses who work in Nanaimo and surrounding North Island communities rallied in front of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) Thursday, united and determined in their ask that government address a health-care crisis that's bringing their worksite to its knees.

As Vancouver Island's busiest hospital, NRGH sees upwards of 250 patients walk into the emergency department each day. Under-staffed, burnt-out, and morally distressed nurses say they're having to balance dangerous patient loads on every single shift, with anywhere from 30 to 40 patients waiting hours to be seen at one time. 

Just two weeks ago, an ER nurse was assigned a staggering fifty-five patients. 

"The conditions at NRGH are incredibly difficult for the nurses who work there, and they are very frightened that something tragic will happen on their watch," says BCNU regional chair, Kelley Charters. "The nurses want to see a cap on how many admitted patients can be left in the ER. Hallways are overcrowded and this has brought so many of our nurses to tears."

Temporary ER closures in smaller communities such as Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Alert Bay have also contributed to the added pressure on NRGH as residents travel to Nanaimo for emergency care. Charters says while Nanaimo continues to see its population grow, the hospital's staffing levels have not kept up with demands and the problem has only gotten worse with the arrival of Influenza and RSV season.

"It's time to recruit and retain nurses at NRGH so that we can manage the incredible strain on patients and nurses at NRGH," says Charters. "While we are in the process of meeting with Island Health, we are also very interested to see what Premier Eby's plan looks like when it comes to addressing these significant issues."

For media interviews, please contact the BCNU Communications Department at

If you are NOT receiving updates, news, and events emailed to you, log in to the BCNU Member Portal and update your information.