Nurses rally at Merritt's hospital demanding better security and more staff | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Nurses rally at Merritt's hospital demanding better security and more staff

Image Credit: Interior Health

Nurses at the Nicola Valley Hospital in Merritt spent the lunch hour today protesting staffing shortages and demanding increased security.

The nurses pointed out during the rally today, April 17, that staff shortages and safety concerns are impacting patient care.

Nurses say Interior Health has ignored their demands for increased security after two incidents occurred at the hospital, according to a BC Nurses Union media release.

Two weeks ago an person followed a nurse into hospital during the night shift and they were found sleeping inside the next morning. In October of 2023, a stabbing took place in the parking lot.

"It's the employer's duty to ensure a safe workplace," BCNU president Adriane Gear said in the release.

"Despite nurses repeated asks for security at this facility, nothing has been done. This, as they work 16-hour-plus shifts to keep the ER doors open because of the staffing challenges they continue to deal with."

The union says a lot of pressure is put on nurses who are keeping the hospital running in a growing and aging community which is only accentuated by the location of the hospital next to a major highway that sees a high volume of commercial and recreational traffic.

The lack of long-term care facilities in the area has also added to the pressure put on the ER which has seen temporary closures this year due to the staffing shortages.

Gear says this is a reflection of the lack of action that should be put in place to retain nurses who work at the hospital.

"Nurses don't want to see patients suffer any longer. The people of Merritt deserve better healthcare," she says.

"It's not uncommon for the hospital's nurse vacancy rate to hover at twice what it should be, but Interior Health has yet to provide tangible staffing solutions that will address the crisis in this community."

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