Eventually they knew it would come down to this.
Prince George doctors say they’ve been telling PGRH administration to solve the nursing crisis for over a year. When doctors relinquished privileges at the hospital in June, the doctors settlement included $1-million for nurses and health care workers.
That support continues today as nurses refused to work overtime through Easter and continue to cut non-nursing duties such as answering phones and making beds out of their vocabulary.
Dr. Bert Kelly of the Northern Medical Society says doctors would take on an occasional non-nursing duty if a patient needed immediate help, but support nurse’s job action completely. Management has been available since job action began April 4 to make beds, pick up food trays and answer the phone.
“If someone was acutely ill one does what one has to do,” says Dr. Kelly. “We absolutely support the nurses in their demands.”
And why wouldn’t doctors be supportive? At Prince George Regional Hospital beds have been closed in different departments through out the year. And most doctors would do anything to see more nurses at the hospital.
Patients needing to be admitted to upper wards sit in a holding room and wait for others to be released, sometimes 20 patients at a time. As nursing numbers drop, beds and operating rooms close, mostly because there aren’t enough nurses to take care of patients when they recover. And operating room closures ultimately mean less work and money for anesthesiologists and doctors, who’s inability to work here makes urban hospitals look more intriguing all the time. When hospital beds close here, doctors in outlying communities feel it.
As staffing levels drop, the hospital goes on something called a hospital-wide diversion, which essentially means it won’t take patients from other communities. According to Renee Foot, hospital spokesperson, diversions are very common for PGRH and are nothing new.
“That’s something we’ve been doing daily for months,” she says. “We have to be concerned about patient safety first. If we don’t have enough staff we have to send notices out to other people.”
Dr. Kelly says things are worse than that. “There are people from the city who should be admitted and aren’t,” he says. “We are not even fully functioning as a community hospital, let alone as a regional hospital.”