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‘The pandemic is wreaking havoc on them’: New Brunswick Nurses Union warns breaking point on the horizon


With dozens of COVID-19 patients in hospitals across New Brunswick, combined with an ongoing staffing shortage, Paula Doucet calls the situation "scary."

Doucet, the head of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, says in one instance a registered nurse supervisor worked for 37 hours straight - through two evening shifts – because there was no one to replace them.

"This pandemic is just wreaking havoc on them right now," she said.

Doucet says they hear of nurses considering leaving the profession altogether almost on a weekly basis because "they just have nothing left to give."

Some hospitals are experiencing the stress more than others. Edmundston Regional is treating eight patients with COVID-19, four of them are in intensive care.

Campbellton Regional is treating 16.

Vitalite Health Network reported 83 per cent of its staff are double vaccinated, but the rate is lower in some hospitals.

Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph in Saint-Quentin is at 65 per cent.

"Please get vaccinated. I don’t want to see you in our hospital unless you’re coming for an elective procedure," said Dr. Mark Macmillan, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society.

"I don’t want to see you in our ICU. I don’t want to have to talk to your family about ventilation and I don’t want to have to ever speak to your family about withdrawing care because things aren’t going well for you."

Some institutions are also reporting their vaccine progress. The University of New Brunswick said Thursday that 94.3 per cent of its students and staff are fully vaccinated.

Macmillan says it’s the only way out of the pandemic, but that the staffing shortage also needs to be addressed.

“We want to keep our hospitals open, we don’t want to stay in the Red phase any longer than we absolutely have to, but for now, we do. And we need the public to be patient with us, we’re doing the best we can."

Doucet says the province can’t look back, only move forward, and try to improve the situation.

“It’s about what can we do, today, going forward, and I think some really strong decisions need to be made around restrictions and recommendations and following public health recommendations." Top Stories

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