Fraser Health clarifies hospital ER staffing

Fraser Health has clarified the new staffing situation at Delta Hospital’s emergency ward.

In response to an article that ran in the Optimist last month on the creation of a new telemetry unit where cardiac patients are directed, which the health authority said would free up capacity in the emergency room for other patients, the B.C. Nurses’ Union countered that what has happened, in fact, is an overcapacity situation.

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The union noted four ER beds were closed to create the new four-bed telemetry unit for patients with cardiac needs. Due to the criteria required to obtain a bed in that new unit, a number of patients waiting in the ER would be declared ineligible to go to that new unit, the nurses claimed in a letter to the editor.

“The end result is that the ER now has a bed shortage where medical and surgical patients used to be placed. So the ER ends up running at overcapacity. This means that there are too many patients to care for in relation to the number of nurses in the ER to provide the care. Both patients and nurses deserve better.”

Asked to clarify what’s going on in the ER, a spokesperson with the FHA stated when cardiac patients were moved out of the emergency department and into a specialized unit in the hospital, the region created a geriatric emergency nurse position instead of a traditional emergency nurse position in the emergency department. As well, FHA added four new health care aids to the department.

With almost one-third of patients coming into the emergency department being over 65 years of age, the hospital is able to provide more targeted patient care with the geriatric emergency nurse position, according to the health authority.

“This means nurses are able to provide better and more specialized patient care while health care aids provide 24/7 support services. We also increased the hours of the IV outpatient nurse to full time.

In addition to staffing in the emergency department, we created a specialized cardiac unit and provided a total of 20 nurses with specialty telemetry training to support the unit. We also increased the number of care aids working there by two,” the health authority explains.

“Overall, these changes have allowed us to diversify the mix of nursing staff and improve our hospital’s versatility, resulting in better care for all our patients. We consulted with the BCNU prior to making these changes, and appreciate the hard work and dedication of all our nursing staff as they work together to provide safe and timely care for all of our patients.”

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