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VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. Nurses Union recently met with MLAs from the Liberal and Green Party to discuss healthcare in the province. 

The meeting took place in Victoria on October 18th, and according to a post by the union, there will be another meeting with MLAs from the NDP.

Both Peace region MLAs attended the event and said it was “eye-opening.”

Davies says some of the stories they heard from nurses were “gut-wrenching,” noting that “emotions were high” during the meeting.

Davies recalls hearing stories about nurses arriving to work and being confronted with the fact that they were the only ones available in the emergency room.

“We are in a critical situation in our province with healthcare, staffing, the whole works,” said Davies, who believes the healthcare system in the north has collapsed.

Residents have been dealing with healthcare issues in Northeast B.C. for many years. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further revealed the cracks in the system.

Organizations, leaders, and residents in the northeast have brought up many issues, such as limited services.

In Chetwynd, the local hospital has been forced to close or divert its emergency room over 50 times in the past two years, according to data compiled from Northern Health.

Recently, Bernier was told that residents of Chetwynd were not informed of diversion at the hospital, which has brought further frustration across the community.

A Northern Health posted in its Facebook group for Chetwynd five days ago stating there may be “intermittent and temporary service interruptions to the Emergency Department” at the hospital.

According to Bernier, residents reached out to him, saying there was no other notice than a sign on the hospital doors.

“My biggest frustration on the diversions right now is the lack of notice that is going out to people,” Bernier said. “I know sometimes it’s last minute, but it’s not hard for Northern Health to just go on a Facebook page — they have to try and notify people.”

Davies and Bernier say the province has been having issues finding frontline workers and retaining them, particularly nurses.

“Nurses are being burnt out. Nurses are being overworked,” said Bernier.

“We more obviously need to help with [recruiting], but we need to be thanking the ones we have so we don’t lose them.” 

While both seemed to agree the situation was dire, Davies and Bernier both seemed hopeful that the situation may improve with government cooperation, better resources for nurses, and open communication. recently released Code Grey: Systemic Failure in Northern Health, the first part of its investigative series exploring the state of healthcare in the northeast.

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Katherine Caddel is a recent graduate of Laurentian University's English Media and Rhetoric program. They grew up in Northern Ontario and recently decided to make the North Peace their new home. When not at work, Katherine enjoys horror movies, playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons.