More than 40 people gather at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Friday wearing purple and waving signs during a rally to raise awareness revolving around the lack of beds.

More than 40 people gather at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Friday wearing purple and waving signs during a rally to raise awareness revolving around the lack of beds.

Nurses protest overcrowding at VJH

The public has been provided with a visible reminder that their hospital requires support.

The B.C. Nurses Union hung a giant purple ribbon from a tree in front of Vernon Jubilee Hospital Friday to signify overcrowding, also known as code purple.

“We’re making sure everyone knows this  is an issue,” said Christine Sorensen, regional chairperson, during a rally that drew about 50 people.

“We need more beds  and we’re not going to stop until we get them.”

VJH is funded for 148 acute-care beds but there are times where there are 160 to 170 patients admitted. In one case, there were 192 patients.

“The citizens of Vernon are putting up with an unacceptable level of health care,” said Janice Buchanan, BCNU vice-president.

“Daily, patients are languishing in the hallways.”

The nurses, as well as physicians and other health care workers, have launched a purple ribbon campaign to create awareness about overcapacity conditions and to press the government to open more acute care beds.

Two shelled-in floors in the soon-to-be-completed patient care tower are designated for possible future acute care use, but no funding has been committed.

It could cost about $10 million to develop each of the shelled-in floors for use by patients, and then $10 million each annually to operate the floors.

Each floor could contain 30 beds.

“Thirty beds is what we’re gridlocked with on a daily basis,” said Sorensen of the immediate need for one floor to open and for the second floor to handle overflow patients.

Interior Health Authority officials did not participate in Friday’s rally.

“We were notified of the BCNU’s plans to hold this event and respect the nurses’ and other staff’s individual decisions to participate,” said Pat Furey, VJH administrator.

“We recognize that Vernon Jubilee is a busy hospital and we are doing what we can to ensure patients care needs are met in a timely and safe manner.”