10 nurses in BC Children’s Hospital ER resign over unaffordable housing: union
Metro Vancouver’s housing crisis is infecting other industries, and some local nurses are feeling the symptoms. Health care workers across the region are leaving because they’re unable to afford to live near work, or pay for parking every day if they commute.“We’re stretched really thin,” said Christine Sorensen, president of the BC Nurses’ Union. So thin, the union says, the emergency room at BC Children’s Hospital recently had 10 nurses resign, citing housing inaffordability. The sudden decrease in staffing levels pushed another to transfer, claiming the conditions were unsafe. “Nurses are compensated fairly and recognized for the work that they do, but it concerns me if nurses can’t afford to live and work here,” Sorensen said. “It’s difficult to provide safe patient care when we’re not fully staffed.” Nurses earn an average salary of about $70,000 a year, but Sorensen said she often hears from nurses that it’s still difficult to get by in a city where the average single-family home costs more than a million dollars. There is currently a 30 per cent vacancy in the ER at the hospital, the union told CTV News. The hospital’s chief operating officer says BC Children’s was able to maintain a safe level of staffing during that time, and added that the hospital is growing. It’s in a new facility, meaning more jobs are being created.“We’ve recruited a number of positions and we have a new group of nurses starting in early January,” Linda Lemke said. She told CTV News that among the hospital’s strategies are proactive hiring, working with educational institutions and training nurses on the campus for specialty care. Lemke said she “couldn’t say that there’s been a specific trend” when it comes to nurses leaving the hospital, telling CTV some have relocated, and some have retired or gone on maternity leave. “We have seen people go, but we’ve also been able to recruit,” Lemke said.