B.C. nurses’ open letter on ‘insufficient and slow response’ to spread of COVID-19 to Trudeau & Horgan

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan:

As front line British Columbia nurses, we want to join our voices with the Royal Columbian Hospital doctors in expressing our alarm at the insufficient and slow response of the federal and provincial governments to the current spread of Corona-19.  The doctors’ warning must be heeded – “we need to act now to prevent a catastrophic number of preventable deaths.  At our current rate of spread, our hospitals will be overwhelmed in a few weeks without drastic action.  We must slow the community spread of COVID-19 in B.C….  A community lockdown may seem drastic, but experiences throughout the rest of the world clearly demonstrate how critical it is to act decisively and urgently.”

The measures taken so far have been welcome, but they are not sufficient.  In the last week alone between Monday and Friday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in British Columbia tripled.  On Monday, March 16, there were 103 cases.  By Friday that had risen to 348.  This means that if they continue to grow at the same rate there could be 9,000 in B.C. by April 1.  28,000 by April 8.  84,000 by April 15.  (*)

That is bad enough, but it actually understates the present situation.  The problem is not just that the number of confirmed cases is growing, but the rate at which they are growing is itself increasing.  On March 9 there were 32 confirmed cases in B.C.  Five days later there were 73, an increase of 128%.  On March 15 there were 88 cases.  Five days later there were 348, an increase of 296%.  

Covid-19 in B.C. (and presumably in Canada as a whole) is still spreading exponentially.  There is no reason whatsoever to think we cannot become another Italy.  If nothing changes radically, we are certain to.  The only step that can prevent this is massive social distancing on a scale qualitatively beyond what has been done so far, because what has been done so far is simply not working.

To work, social distancing needs to include a mandatory shutdown of every workplace except those deemed essential –  such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and health care facilities.  It needs to include a shutdown of every place that can multiply the spread of the virus.  We need to apply the same logic requiring the closure of schools to every similar institution.  For example, every construction camp needs to be closed, or we will continue to concentrate thousands of individuals in close quarters, with shared dining halls, bathrooms and bunk facilities, only to have them periodically fly out on leave and disperse across the province every few weeks.  

Social distancing requires that we house the homeless, but in a way that disperses them rather than jamming them into shelters that will only accelerate the virus’ spread.  There are thousands of unoccupied housing units, hotel rooms and motel rooms in the Lower Mainland.  They need to be accessed.

Finally, we need to make social distancing possible.  We need to provide financial supports for everyone who has lost their job.  We need to provide guarantees against eviction for non-payment of rent or mortgages.  We need to ensure guaranteed supplies of food and medication for everyone housebound due to quarantine, voluntary isolation or mandatory social distancing.  We need to resolve the problem of daycare for every class of essential workers (truckers, grocery employees, couriers, firefighters, janitors, healthcare workers) to keep them working.  There needs to be free hotel accommodation for doctors, respiratory therapists, nurses, housekeeping, paramedics, security, kitchen staff  so we don’t have to fear we will bring the virus home to our families.  We also need to be guaranteed adequate supplies of PPE – N95s, gowns and gloves – to keep us at work as caregivers, not patients.

Governments must take every step they can to remove the barriers that force people — especially poor people — to ignore calls to stay at home.  

We are all too aware of the risks we are facing, not only to our own health but to our families as well. We will stay at our posts nonetheless.  But we insist – we demand – that you act to implement mandatory social isolation.  The measures to date are not working. This is an emergency.  We need to act like it’s an emergency.

Signed,

100 Mile House Hospital
Pam Easton RN

Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre
Leah Ganache RN
Thandi Ndhlovu RN
Navneet Josan RN
Janice Chan RN

Assertive Community Treatment Team
Charmaine Chiu RPN BSPN

BC Childrens’ Hospital

Anja Pakendorf RN

BC Women’s Hospital
Kuldeip Chagani RN

Burnaby General Hospital
Annaleah Kralj RN
Glady Parrenas RN
Maria Macapiniac RN
Marylee Chu RN
Rowena Maniti RN

Chilliwack General Hspital
Noel Gadiano RN

Community Nursing Interior Health
Marnie Flynn LPN

Community Transitional Care Team

Jendra Gonzales RN

Comox Valley Hospital
Christine Burr RN

Cowichan District Hospital
Rebeca Easthorn LPN

Dawson Creek and District Hospital
Lexi Sparrow RN

Eagle Park Health Care Facility
Michelle Martinson RN

Eagle Ridge Hospital
Lissett Tschenscher LPN
Terry Wong RN

Fraser Health Authority
Felice Suva RPN
Kathryn Harris RN

Glenwood Lodge
Jezel Gadiano RN

Healthlink BC/811
Julie Raustad RN
Carrie Wells RN

Hilltop House
Danika Semeniuk LPN

Home Health Service Line
Sandra Cyr RN

Interior Health Community Care
Melodie Schlamp RN

Kelowna General Hospital
Laura Gallacher RN
Collyne Zahorodniuk RN
Tammy Anderson RN

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital
Lisa Keech RN

Ladysmith Community Health Centre
Louise Gilfoy RN

Lions Gate Hospital
Sheila Hardy RN
Sukhi Rai RN
Laurie Halfpenny RN
Parisa Zamani RN
Sam Sobolewski RN
Lou Alcruz RN
Angela Ireton RN
Ryan MacDonald RN
Ivan Iarov RN
Allyson Helgason RN

Mission Memorial Hospital
Joanna Pryor RN

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
Mark Hernandez BSPN RPN PLN
Jeff Miguez RN
Whitney Nelson RN
Chantal Crowder RPN
Ann Burlington RN
Katie Backstrom RN BSN
Leane Rear RN

Newton Community Dialysis Centre
Racel Yngreso RN

North Shore Community Health
Eva Jirika RN
Cathy Hodgins RN
June McAdam RN

Oceanside Urgent Care Centre
Cindy Godmaire RN

Peace Arch Hospital
Cecilia Villanueva RN

Powell River General Hospital
Heather Woods LPN
Laurie Vallance RN

Richmond General Hospital
Anthony Malig RN
Jenny Wan-Chin To RN
Maggie Tsui RN

Ridge Meadows Hospital
Camille Nicholson RN

Royal Columbian Hospital
Christina Gower RN
Bal Chahal RN
Harpreet Bal RN
Tiffany Yee RN
Sherri Pel RN
Joel Baughman RN
Maria Proulx RN

Royal Jubilee Hospital
Rachel Blakely RN BSN
Sarah Johnston RN

Royal Inland Hospital
Leah Pooler RN
Lauren Marinella RN

Saanich Peninsula Hospital
Claire Brooks RN

St. Paul’s Hospital
Nicole Moffat RN
Nicole Wong RPN
Maria Lenardon RN
Binhui Luo RN

Surrey Memorial Hospital
Krishna Mondala RN
Cecile Giusta RN PCC
Wendy Dickinson RN
Deni Handy LPN
Linda Zaron RN
Kirandeep Brar RN
Liat Ronen RN
Allyson Rahman LPN

Thornebridge Gardens
Johanne Young LPN

UBC Hospital
Giliana dos Reis RN

University Hospital of Northern BC
Kyle Bergen LPN
Deandra Cormier RN

Vancouver General Hospital
Lori Dupuis RN BSN
Andrea Noronha RN
Sophie Pelletier RN
Nazanin Barati RN
Kathy Treherne RN
Ladan Bayani-Mehrabadi RN
Will Offley RN
Lieza Phan RN
Arlene Aspinall RN
Charing Ho RN
Karen Schmidt RN
Christina Casey RN
Kim Klassen RN
Mark Galloway RN

Vernon Jubilee Hospital
Michele Dyke RN

Victoria General Hospital
Lisa Isacson RN

Adam Beattie New grad
Nicole Csonka RN
Alicia Lansdowne RN
Danielle Garden RPN
Janet Walter RN BSN
Sabrina Levac RN
Imtiaz Joorawon RN
Kulwant Dhaliwal RN
Talia Rattan RN
Sara Weinkam RN
Patricia Sproul RN
Ashley Mai RN
Doris Adgerra RN
Achharjit Cheema RN
Tania Rodriguez RN

cc. Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia Chief Medical Health Officer
      Dr. Gerald Da Roza, Head of Medicine, Royal Columbian Hospital

(*) This open letter was composed before the March 21-23 new case numbers in B.C. were available.  On Thursday March 19 there were 40 new cases.  On Friday March 20, a jump of 85% in one day.  On Saturday however the rate of increase slowed , with 74 new cases.  Sunday saw 76, today 48.  If this trend continues it may well represent the beginning of a flattening of what has been until now an exponential curve,  Let us all hope that is the case, but not relax vigilance.

1 COMMENT

  1. I am all for this since l worked in health care at SMH for 19 years. I know how crazy it is at the hospital on a good day never mind having to go through this.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.