Nurses’ Union says Northern Health putting health-care workers’ safety at risk

Nurses say PPE supply levels remain dangerously low around BC

The BC Nurses’ Union says they have serious concerns that provincial health employers may be failing to effectively protect health-care workers from COVID-19.

Since March 20, BCNU has received more than 1,700 concerns from nurses across the province who are increasingly concerned that health employers are unable to provide them with adequate PPE such as gowns, gloves, face shields and N95 respirator masks. Equipment that is critical to protecting them and their patients as the coronavirus pandemic continues.transmission and infection, and are instead resorting to questionable safety measures like the use of re-processed and expired personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes 142 concerns from Northern Health nurses.

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As the province moves in and out of elevated stages of PPE supply risk, BCNU president Christine Sorensen says she is extremely troubled to hear reports of employers asking nurses to take questionable measures to preserve PPE at the risk of their safety.

“Nurses are getting only one mask per shift. Others have been told to leave their used mask on a piece of paper towel when they go on a break,” she said Monday in a release.

Sorensen adds these first-hand accounts have led BCNU to question what state the pandemic response measures or other disease transmission controls were in before this public health crisis began, and how health employers plan on navigating the challenges that will continue to arise as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on.

“Respirators, masks and other PPE are meant to be the last line of defense for care providers, after all other control measures are in place,” explains Sorensen.

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