Imaging department at Kamloops hospital also understaffed | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Imaging department at Kamloops hospital also understaffed

Image Credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ Creative Commons Attribution

An X-ray technologist at Royal Inland Hospital said the medical imaging department is falling apart at the seams due to the current severe staffing shortage.

They said when they started less than ten years ago there were always enough staff and enough spares to cover shifts. No one was working overtime hours.

Now there are not enough staff to fill in and those remaining are working overtime hours on a regular basis. This is causing stress and fatigue for technologists who require mental clarity and precision. They operate imaging equipment for doing X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and ultrasound imaging.

“You have to be focussed,” the technologist said. “You are moving around patients who are not well and often in pain, trying to get images in different positions. You have to make sure you are getting diagnostic images.”

The technologist will not be named due to likely job repercussions.

They said it is hard to be focussed after working so many extra hours every week.

“The managers don’t postpone appointments they keep sending patients through even when we are short of technologists,” they said. “The few of use remaining are stretched thin and working extra hours all the time. We work closely with the emergency department staff and see the absolute crisis they too are working through.”

READ MORE: Kamloops hospital’s pediatrics, obstetrics unit temporarily closes due to staff calling in sick

The technologist said with so many departments struggling under the pressures of the staff shortage there is more of a risk connections and clear communication will not be made from one department to the other.

Often patients are brought to the imaging department by hospital porters, helpers who do many tasks including transporting patients from one end of the hospital to another.

The technologist said due to short staffing in all hospital departments and not enough porters, communication breakdowns are occurring.

"More mistakes are being made and we have accidentally X-rayed the wrong patients,” they said. “This has happened on more than one occasion this year. There are procedures in place on both ends to identify the patient, but communication is falling apart. X-rays are being ordered on the wrong patient, and steps are being missed". 

READ MORE: Patients observe chaos inside the emergency department at Royal Inland Hospital

The technologist said there is a lack of newly trained imaging techs becoming available to fill positions at the department. Only a few years ago a new tech would have to beg and hope for a position, and take whatever opportunity was offered.

The technician said during their time they have not seen the hospital anywhere near the crisis point it is currently at. They said the hallways to the emergency department are full of beds and the backlog of patients waiting for beds is upwards of 40 patients at any given time.

“It is something you have to see to believe, what is happening here,” they said. “I don’t know how much longer we can operate like this. Things are falling apart and we don’t see any help in sight.”

Yesterday, Interior Health confirmed unit 3 West, a pediatrics and obstetrics unit, closed temporarily because a number of staff called in sick in the afternoon. They did not answer questions regarding how long the closure was in effect, or the number of healthcare workers they were short or why there is a shortage of workers.

READ MORE: Kamloops hospital’s pediatrics, obstetrics unit temporarily closes due to staff calling in sick

This past weekend, Clearwater’s emergency department closed due to staffing shortages. It also closed the previous weekend because of the staffing challenges. Interior Health also announced this morning, May 16 that Nicola Valley Hospital's emergency department in Merritt will be closed until tomorrow at 8 a.m. due to limited physician availability.

Interior Health did not reply in time for publication. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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