Nurses at Kelowna General Hospital say while they are happy with new buildings that opened there last weekend, they feel more nurses need to be added to the staff to adequately provide “safe” patient care at the hospital.
About 40 nurses rallied outside the new Centennial Tower at KGH on Wednesday afternoon, with B.C. Nurses’ Union regional chairwoman Laurie Munday calling the lack of additional nurses a “huge oversight.”
“You need the right number of nurses at the right time to look after patients,” she said.
But Tracy McDonald, heath services administrator at KGH disputed Munday’s claim that no extra staff were added as a result of the opening of the new six-storey tower and new clinical services building.
She said of the 18.7 new positions that have been added as a result of the expansion, 10 are nurses.
“We are aware of the concerns of the BCNU,” said McDonald. “And we have increased staff with the addition of the Centennial Building.”
The building holds several relocated KGH departments, including the emergency and ambulatory care departments and psychiatric care unit. It also includes two relocated patient-care units.
At the rally, Munday said while the aim of the hospital should be a ratio of four patients for every nurse, currently the ratio stands at seven or eight patients for every nurse.
However, McDonald said when the hospital budgets its allocation of staff, it does so with the aim of four patients per nurse.
The new buildings at KGH opened with much fanfare last weekend with a week-long move from several other areas of the hospital into the new tower and clinical support building culminating Sunday with the transfer of 59 patients. They moved from other parts of the hospital — mainly the old Pandosy building — to the Centennial Tower.
The Pandosy Building is slated to be demolished to make room for the new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre, which will make KGH the fifth full cardiac care hospital in B.C.
Munday said by rallying outside the hospital, launching an on-line petition campaign and calling on the government for more health care funding, nurses are not only standing up for their colleagues at KGH and other hospitals across Interior Health, they are also standing up for patients and patient care.
Muday said the province needs to recognize KGH is a regional facility that provides services to than just the Central Okanagan and it needs to be funded as such.
“We are a tertiary hospital, meaning we treat patients from across the southern Interior,” said Munday, who has been a nurse at KGH for 27 years.
She said despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been pumped into KGH in recent years for the construction of additional space and facilities, it is not uncommon to still see patients in beds in hallways at the hospital.
“The lack of nurses is affecting safe patient care,” she said.
KGH currently has about 700 nurses on staff, according to the union.