Nurses rally on doorstep of beleaguered Nicola Valley Hospital: “Merritt Deserves Better”

April 17, 2024
Nurses demand Interior Health address systemic staff shortages and security concerns

Exhausted and distressed, nurses at Nicola Valley Hospital held a lunch-hour rally outside the facility today, calling on Interior Health to address their security concerns and the systemic staffing shortages plaguing the hospital and impacting patient care.

They say Interior Health has ignored their calls for increased security after two incidents in and around the facility. Two weeks ago, a person followed a nurse into the hospital while on a night shift and was found sleeping there the next morning. Last October, nurses responded to a stabbing that took place in the hospital’s parking lot.

“It’s the employer’s duty to ensure a safe workplace,” says BCNU President Adriane Gear. “Despite nurses repeated asks for security at this facility, nothing has been done. This, as they work 16-hour-plus shifts to keep the ER doors open because of the staffing challenges they continue to deal with.”

Nurses and health-care workers at the hospital have been doing their best to provide safe, quality health care while managing the community’s growing and aging population, and the pressure that comes with being located next to a major highway system that sees high volumes of commercial and recreational traffic.

Nurses say a lack of long-term care facilities has also put pressure on the hospital’s ER, which has seen temporary closures several times already this year. Gear says this reflects the fact that there’s no action plan in place to effectively retain the nurses who currently work at the hospital and recruit other nurses to the community.

“Nurses don’t want to see patients suffer any longer. The people of Merritt deserve better health care,” she says. “It’s not uncommon for the hospital’s nurse vacancy rate to hover at twice what it should be, but Interior Health has yet to provide tangible staffing solutions that will address the crisis in this community.”

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