Overcrowding in the emergency room at Halifax’s largest hospital has led the union representing nurses to set up a working group to lookfor solutions.

Dan Trivett says he waited five hours in the Halifax Infirmary over the weekend before being diagnosed with pancreatitis.   

“It was busy, definitely busy,” Trivett says. “In the course of waiting I was moved four times.”

Trivett says he heard “Code Census” twice while he waited, which is declared when the ER is overcrowded and there are not enough beds. The Halifax Infirmary is in that position 60 to 70 per cent of the time.

The Dartmouth General experiences it too, but for the past two weeks the infirmary situation has been extreme, with two patients ending up in a room designed for one.

The union representing nurses and other healthcare staff at the QEII struck a working group to help determine the best way to handle overcrowding in the ER.

“We want to do a holistic approach,” says NSGEU President Jason MacLean. “We want to look at what's happening on the floors and the ER, and make I think the best recommendations that come from the people who actually work on the floors.”

The group will be comprised of nurses, union staff and legal counsel.

“These are complex issues that are going to require a lot of us to get our minds together to come up with solutions for them, and we would welcome their input and their criticism and their good ideas,” says Nova Scotia Health Authority Health Services vice-president Tim Guest.

The union also intends to send letters to the premier, health minister, and licensing bodies, all after a meeting Monday night that saw two dozen nurses show up to express concerns.

“(Nurses) feel that they're vulnerable and they feel that the people that are getting moved on the floor are vulnerable,” MacLean says.

Dan Trivett, who intends to run for the NDP in the next provincial election, says he received great care, but believes the system is broken.

After being told he would be admitted, he ended up leaving after waiting two days for a bed.

“It was my choice to leave. They were reluctant to let me leave,” Trivett says.

The Department of Health released a statement Wednesday saying it is confident the union and the health authority can work together to address this issue, and that government will be monitoring those discussions.

The union says it hopes to have those recommendations ready in a couple of weeks.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.