B.C. doctors, nurses warn breaking point is near as Omicron surge hits health system

The Omicron-fuelled surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in B.C. is adding pressure to the province’s health-care system and its frontline workers.

Many doctors and nurses say they feel they are approaching the breaking point, with few resources to help them get through some very difficult days.

With hospitalizations still on the rise through the fifth wave of the pandemic, the president of Doctors of BC says members are on the verge of a collective collapse.

Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh warns it is important for everyone to pay attention to this burnout among physicians, because if more health-care workers are lost, the patients are the ones who will suffer.

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“Some doctors are just ready to quit, that is the fear. People have shared their honest feeling with me and they are feeling so consumed. They are emotionally exhausted, they are feeling depleted, they are seeing their patients suffer,” Dosanjh says. “We’ve been doing this now heading into our third year. Can you imagine?”

The president of the BC Nurses Union also feels many frontline health-care workers are reaching a breaking point, all while trying to balance their own health and that of their patients.

Aman Grewal says there are not enough resources to help nurses deal with their own mental well-being with the increasing fatigue, anxiety, and relentless slog of the pandemic starting to take its toll.

“They have their own families, their parents, their grandparents, their children to look after as well as themselves. They are trying to keep themselves safe, their patients safe, their coworkers safe, and their families. It’s quite the balancing act that they are having to do, and they are not getting any downtime to take care of themselves,” Grewal says.

Last week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while the latest wave of COVID-19 may have peaked the previous weekend in parts of B.C., there’s a lag between reported cases and those who end up in the hospital.

That means there are still difficult days ahead for hospitals and their staff.

On Monday, Henry noted “the stress under which the public health and health-care systems are currently operating, and the impact this is having on the provision of health care to the population.”

Tuesday’s provincial briefing is expected to deal with public health orders covering things like gyms and gatherings that were brought in before Christmas. They were set to expire just past midnight on Tuesday but were extended on Monday to keep them in effect until the afternoon update.

We’ll have all you need to know from the Tuesday update both on-air and online.

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