Nurses cautious over Vernon Jubilee Hospital announcement

Increased funding is looming at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, but the devil will be in the details say health care workers.

Health Minister Michael de Jong is expected to make an announcement in two or three weeks regarding more acute care beds to ease congestion.

“I’d be cautious. The government has come up with announcements before with long implementation dates,” said Christine Sorensen, with the B.C. Nurses Union.

“If there is an announcement, we may not see any action until early in 2013.”

It’s not known if de Jong will fund completion of both shelled-in floors in the Polson tower or if just one will be done at this time.

“The people of the entire North Okanagan region need these top two floors completed and filled with acute care beds, to enable them to obtain the basic health care delivery they require,” said Dr. Chris Cunningham, a VJH physician. “Two floors are needed to be completed, not one floor.”

Despite lobbying, Cunningham says the government has never addressed opening up an adequate amount of acute care beds.

“Surely it makes economic sense that if you are to complete one shelled in floor, it makes sense to go ahead and complete the other floor at the same time,” he said.

While Sorensen wants more acute care beds added, she insists the Interior Health Authority could do more to improve the current situation, particularly through hiring more nurses.

“The quality of care is unsafe. Nurses are worried about their own ability to provide quality of care,” she said of nurses having to frequently work over time.

“Nurses are absolutely worn out. We need an increase in nursing positions in this hospital and across the province.”

Sorensen believes IHA and the government shouldn’t face any challenges recruiting more staff.

“There are nurses graduating in April desperately looking for positions,” she said. “They are being pursued by Alberta and the U.S. and we’re losing nurses.”



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