By Pamela Haasen, CICK 93.9 Smithers Community Radio, Local Journalism Initiative
As the fourth wave of COVID-19 continues, Intensive Care Unit doctors and nurses are sounding the alarm. They’re saying the health care system in northern B.C. is in trouble.
“The north is being overstretched by COVID-19,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday, despite high vaccination rates in communities such as Kitimat, Terrace and Nisga’a and Haida Gwaii.
The numbers are small, with 12 intensive care patients transferred as of Monday, but the rate is significantly higher and occurs in mainly rural areas where vaccination rates are the lowest in the province. The rate of new cases is 41 per 100,000 people is in the Northern Health region, compared to 19 in Interior Health, 11 in Fraser Health and nine on Vancouver Island, Dix said Sept. 21.
The overall vaccination rate in Northern Health is 75 per cent with first dose and 65 per cent fully vaccinated, significantly lower than other parts of the province. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said access in remote parts of B.C. is one issue, as well as complacency after a long period when the region saw very few cases. There are also “faith and community leaders actively against vaccination,” and social media spreading false information is a factor, Henry said.
With this data, the BC Nurses union is speaking out against mandatory vaccination rates for healthcare workers and the effect that will ultimately have on workers who are not planning on getting vaccinated and the already disastrous staffing crisis in health care.
On top of this, Christine Sorenson, the BCNU President, has quit her position in a short press statement released on bcnu,org that read:
“The BC Nurses’ Union thanks Christine Sorensen for her years of dedication and service to the BCNU. Christine Sorensen has resigned as President of the BCNU for personal reasons and to pursue other opportunities.”
Top Photo courtesy of BCNU