Local resident Don Jones joins nurses in front of Vernon Jubilee Hospital Tuesday to help spread the message that more beds are needed now.

Local resident Don Jones joins nurses in front of Vernon Jubilee Hospital Tuesday to help spread the message that more beds are needed now.

Call for more beds getting louder

The voices demanding improved conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital are growing.

The voices demanding improved conditions at Vernon Jubilee Hospital are growing.

About 60 nurses and residents gathered in front of VJH Tuesday to call for the two shelled-in floors in the new tower to be opened for acute care beds.

“It’s kind of sick to build the floors and not  fill them,” said Ed Tanaka, a former Vernon Good Citizen.

Resident Don Jones is concerned about overcrowding in the hospital.

“Why is it being ignored? Chances are you or a loved one are going to need to go in there. It’s depressing,” he said.

VJH receives funding for 148 acute-care beds but on average, there are 165 patients daily. A shortage of beds has also led to surgeries being cancelled.

Taking part in the rally was a contingent from the Old Age Pensioners Organization.

“We have 46 members and they all tell a story about what care is like,” said Jessie Crawford-Brown, chapter president.

In one case, a member who was injured after a fall was moved to Salmon Arm because there is no room in Vernon for her.

“We’d like to see her come home,” said Crawford-Brown.

Mayor Wayne Lippert also demanded action from the government.

“The hospital has great staff. It’s not your fault,” he told the nurses of overcrowding.

“It’s an  issue of getting funding.”

Victoria drew sharp criticism from Debra McPherson, B.C. Nurses Union president.

“Is your vote so guaranteed they don’t need to look after you?” she said. “Where is the MLA for this area? Why isn’t he in the Legislature pounding the floor for families?”

Government officials have stated that there is limited funding available, but McPherson doesn’t back that argument.

“They found $380 million to put a roof on an arena in Vancouver,” said McPherson, adding that she is also upset the government is proposing to cut the harmonized sales tax from 12 to 10 per cent.

“That two per cent of government revenue could go to health care in this community.”

This is the second rally the B.C. Nurses Union has held in front of VJH since March.

“We’re here because there have been no solutions at this hospital. We’re tired of this situation,” said Christine Sorensen, regional chairperson.

The union is distributing a pamphlet that tells residents how to pressure the government.

“There are things you can do to make this front and centre  so we can make change,” Sorensen told the crowd.