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Critical nursing shortage at Fort St. John hospital

Northern Health is facing a staffing crisis in Fort St. John and is getting no sympathy from the public.
“Our staff are exhausted, overworked, and are facing brutal criticism from the public and insults on their shifts,” according to the Northern Health Fort St. John Facebook page. “This is unacceptable. Every day when they show up for work, they are putting the needs of the community of Fort St. John ahead of their own and those of their families at home. We implore people to be kind, patient, and respectful of these staff members and the situation they are facing.”
All of the acute care areas of the hospital are affected, however the emergency room is getting hit the hardest. At this time there are five permanent registered nurses (RN) staffing the ER, which has 20 total nursing positions. This requires nursing staff to be pulled from other services to support ER operations. This means that in some cases there may be just one nurse available on a given shift.
“We are doing everything in our power to address this,” according to the post. “We are currently working to recruit and hire for these nursing positions, recognizing the applications are very limited. However, we are anticipating another four nurses by January. In addition, the health minister announced on Sept. 14 that Northern Health will receive $6.38 million dollars to help recruit and retain health care workers in northern B.C. and largely focused on the northeast. While the work has already started to put this investment to use, relief will not be immediate.”
This situation is further impacted by the current pressures related to increasing COVID-19 cases, which also mean longer wait times for people coming to the ER – a situation that will likely get worse before it gets better.
“Right now there is another important thing you can do and that is to help lessen the burden on our health care system and be a part of the solution. Do your part. Get vaccinated. Visit the Northern Health web page to find a clinic near you.”

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