Interior Health defends COVID-19 practices against nurses union criticism | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health defends COVID-19 practices against nurses union criticism

February 09, 2021 - 2:31 PM

Interior Health has issued a lengthy rebuttal to criticism from the B.C. Nurses Union, defending its COVID-19 practices and safeguards.

In a statement responding to questions posed by iNFOnews, Interior Health says, "we are working closely with infection control experts, our medical health officers and with provincial guidance to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep our patients, staff, physicians and visitors safe."

The health authority's comments come after the nurses union posed several concerns in a press release yesterday, Feb. 8. 

The union claimed the safety of front line workers is being neglected by health employers and the province.

The nurses union took particular aim at Royal Inland Hospital, saying nurses there have complained about not having "unfettered" access to protective equipment, and "are being forced to work dangerously understaffed" as well as having to deal with "the psychological impact that comes with managing the crisis."

But Interior Health's statement responds that staffing and equipment concerns are being addressed.

"We are carefully monitoring staffing levels and we have a 24/7 shift coordinator working to assist with staffing issues," Interior Health said in its response. "Some patients have been transferred to other sites. Royal Inland Hospital personal protective equipment supply is continually restocked to ensure staff have access to the PPE they need. Protocols are in place to ensure staff are provided PPE that is appropriate to each situation. "

But while the nurses union is calling for easier access to protective equipment by nurses, Interior Health's reaction seems to indicate health officials believe the current procedures for access are adequate.

"(Royal Inland Hospital) follows the provincial (B.C. Center for Disease Control) guidelines for the use of PPE, which are based on evidence about the level of protection required in each situation," Interior Health said.

READ MORE: B.C. nurses union says Interior Health failing Kamloops hospital workers during pandemic

As for concerns raised by the union with vandalism of nurses cars at Ponderosa Lodge, the health authority noted it doesn't own or manage the parking lot in question, but they say they have reached out to staff to explore alternative parking options.

Meanwhile in Kelowna, the union says nurses are being told there's a multi year wait for a parking spot, raising concerns over a safe walk to their vehicle.

Interior Health replies that earlier this year, 63 additional KGH staff parking spots opened in a new lot on Speer Street as well as 11 short-term patient spaces to the Walter Anderson Building lot.

However, the health authority acknowledges a four- to five-year wait for a parking pass "depending on a variety of circumstances", and says parking is an issue for many workplaces including the health sector.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Darren Rathwell 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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