Kamloops ER had less than 50% staffing on long weekend: B.C. Liberals | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops ER had less than 50% staffing on long weekend: B.C. Liberals

Despite putting out an urgent call last week for Interior Health staff to work shifts at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, staffing was below the 50% level in some departments over the Victoria day long weekend.

At a news conference in Kamloops today, May 26, opposition Liberal MLAs Peter Milobar and Todd Stone addressed the crisis at the hospital with data showing staffing levels for three units.

The Emergency Room was down to 40% staffing levels during the day on Friday, May 20, at 53% that night and 46% for Saturday’s day shift. Ward 3W was staffed at 50% Friday through Saturday. The Intensive Care Unit had higher staffing levels at 58% Friday and 66% Saturday.

Saturday night and Sunday day shifts were at 50% staffing levels but the data provided by the MLAs isn't broken down by department.

“There needs to be a complete Human Resources revamp at RIH,” Kamloops Liberal MLA Peter Milobar said at today's news conference. “It needs to be a place people want to work."

He called on Health Minister Adrian Dix to immediately fix the long-standing staffing shortages at the hospital and, if he can’t, for Premier John Horgan to appoint a new health minister who can.

“If we are a tertiary hospital, we expect to be treated the same way as the only other tertiary hospital in Interior Health,” Milobar said, referring to Kelowna General Hospital.

“Royal Inland Hospital’s overall staffing levels (combined nursing, care aides and other support staff) were between 76 to 78 per cent on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the hospital was fully staffed on Monday,” Interior Health said in an email sent to iNFOnews earlier today.

READ MORE: Interior Health calling out-of-town healthcare staff to help at Kamloops hospital

Between the emergency and intensive care units, there was a shortage of 60 specialty care registered nurses over the weekend, the data released by the Liberals said. In the Intensive Care Unit, a callout has been made for 406 vacant shifts between May 26 and June 25, with only 10 taken.

Over the next two months, there are nearly 20,000 unfilled shift hours in the emergency and intensive care units, according to the data. The Coronary Care Unit has been closed for months due to a lack of staff. Those wards are now routinely running with nurse-to-patient ratios of one to eight. Ideal ratios are in the one to four or five range.

The experience level on medical and surgical wards has declined over the past three years. At that time, most had five to seven years of experience. That’s down to many only have one to three years of experience, the Liberals said.

READ MORE: Dangerous staffing crisis at Kamloops hospital years in the making

“With under one year of experience, staff are being redeployed to various wards – some needed as charge nurses due to the lack of Registered Nurses – and these are very often wards they are not orientated to,” a B.C. Liberal caucus news release said. “This is the type of dangerous and stressful situation that our nurses face and what will contribute to our failure to retain them, especially our new ones.”

The shortages have led to charting no longer meeting standards of best practice, errors in medication orders and delays in patient care and interventions, the release said.

READ MORE: X-ray techs at Kamloops hospital 'don't have time' to fill out error reports

Staff shortages have led to operations having to be cancelled, including eight yesterday, May 25. Surgeons are now performing surgeries in Kelowna because there’s not enough operating room time in Kamloops, the Liberal MLAs said.

– This story was updated at 11:19 a.m. May 26, 2022, to add more data on staffing shortages.

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