Nurse petition gathers steam

A petition featuring 12,000 signatures is further proof that Island Health should stop implementation of its new patient care model: BCNU

A petition featuring 12,000 signatures is further proof that Island Health should stop implementation of its new patient care model, says the B.C. Nurses’ Union.

About a half-dozen nurses delivered the results at the Island Health board meeting in Campbell River Jan. 29. The Care Delivery Model Redesign was introduced at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital last September to reduce nursing overtime by bringing care aides into acute care to take on nursing duties such as bathing, toileting and feeding patients.

BCNU steward and Nanaimo licensed practical nurse Kris Vanlambalgen said it has been “chaos” at Nanaimo General since it was introduced.

“Nurses that used to have four patients now have nine,” Vanlambalgen said. “It doesn’t matter how many care aides we have, the bottom line is nurses can’t (properly) care for that many.”

Vanlambalgen said care aides cannot prescribe medication so patients who need pain relief must wait as nurses prioritize their  patient load.

“We wouldn’t leave our family in (Nanaimo Regional General) hospital,” Vanlambalgen said. “Nurses will survive the chaos and crisis; it’s our patients that we are worried about.”

She also said nurses know overtime is an issue but the union would prefer a collaborative discussion to deal with it, instead of the top-down approach.

The health authority is aware of the issues in Nanaimo, said Island Health spokesperson Sarah Plank, which is why they delayed implementation in Victoria from January to April 23.

“There have been challenges and issues that have come up and we are working with staff to address them,” Plank said. “There is a period of adjustment and acclimatizing to the new system. Change is difficult. I think as they get used to working in that new model and learn how to work within that model, things will begin to settle down.”

Plank added that this model has been in place for years in seven Vancouver Island community hospitals, such as Cowichan District, Saanich Peninsula and Campbell River, where it has been “working quite successfully.”

She added that Island Health is listening to concerns. “Patients and our staff are important to us and we are monitoring things to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible,” Plank said.