Letter: 116 nurses demand government take drastic measures

A letter to the prime minister and B.C.’s premier from nurses calls for even more action to battle the COVID-19 pandemic

The Editor,

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan:

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(Note: This open letter was composed before the March 21-23 new case numbers in B.C. were available.)

As frontline 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 COVID-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 March 20 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 and 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 too. 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 Children's’ 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

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