POP BC Briefing #4- Stories from BC’s Hospital Front Lines – The Missing Voices

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Nov 19, 2021: Stories from BC’s Hospital Front Lines – the Missing Voices

How are BC’s hospital workers coping after 20 months of this pandemic? Protect our Province BC decided to find out by asking them directly.

We asked healthcare workers these questions: How has COVID impacted you? How has it changed you? What do you want the public to know? What changes would you like to see in BC’s pandemic response?  

Watch and listen to interviews with health care workers who have been on the front line for the entire pandemic, and hear heart-breaking stories from some of the two hundred hospital workers who responded to our anonymous survey.

Content warning: Please be aware that some of the content we will share is distressing to hear. The stories from BC’s hospital workers can be upsetting but we believe it is important for the public to know what BC’s frontline workers are experiencing during the pandemic. We will not be showing any graphic images or video content. We hope that, as a viewer, you will give yourself the space and time that you need to process.

Facilitator: Dr. Brenda Hardie, Family Doctor, Vancouver, BC


  • Dr. Jeffrey Eppler, Emergency Physician
  • Sarah (last name withheld by request), Registered Nurse, BScN
  • Dr. David Forrest, Infectious Diseases and Critical Care Physician, Nanaimo
Get the slide deck

Highlights from this briefing

Dr. Forrest explains that mask-wearing is the most effective method of containing the spread of a highly transmissible airborne disease like COVID-19.

Summary of Key Points

  • BC’s weak pandemic response has hurt hospitals and acute care in the province.
  • Healthcare workers are suffering.
  • There are actions you can take to help

Nursing and healthcare workers in BC are in crisis.

A majority of survey respondents are thinking of leaving healthcare

Health care workers have continued to provide care for patients despite exhaustion, personal risk of infection, fear of transmission to vulnerable patients and family members, and the loss of patients and colleagues. COVID has made the pre-existing problems in BC healthcare much more obvious, and worsened many of them.

There is a crisis in nursing and healthcare workers in BC, Canada and around the world. An estimated 13 million nurses will be needed globally to fill the gap. 

In BC, four out of ten nurses say they are experiencing severe depression, and six out of ten report mental exhaustion. Of the 50,000 healthcare workers in BC, 12,500 say they are thinking of quitting, and 60% have more burnout and anxiety now as a result of COVID. 

The situation is critical.

Moral injury happens in response to a betrayal of what’s right.

Their job is caring, and it takes a toll when you can’t do the caring you signed up to do.  

Moral injury happens in response to a betrayal of what is right. It is driving many heathcare workers to quit. They aren’t quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They are quitting because they can’t handle being unable to do their jobs.  

Hospitals were already crowded before Covid and now even more so. People are in hospital for weeks or months with COVID, creating a backlog, and lack of access to hospital beds.

If you have more people coming in than going out of your ICU, hospitals are easily overwhelmed, even if the numbers aren’t high.  Nursing workloads are not safe, sometimes quadruple what is recommended.  It’s overwhelming and exhausting trying to provide care. 

There are things you can do to make a difference.

Protect yourself to support BC hospital workers

Take care of your own health to prevent the delayed effects of untreated health issues.

Avoid taking risks that could compromise your health. 

Reach out to those who are reluctant to get vaccinated in a respectful and effective way. 

Recognize that COVID is spread in the air.  Wear the best mask you can and avoid crowded spaces. 

Contact your MLA or Health Authority to press for healthcare improvements.

Pressure your government to do these things:

  • Provide the best protective equipment and well ventilated and filtered air in healthcare, schools and workplaces.  
  • Urgently recruit, train and retain healthcare workers. 
  • Avoid lockdowns by improving our public health strategies.
  • Improve testing and reporting.
  • Educate the public about the airborne nature of COVID
  • Regulate well filtered air and proper ventilation in public buildings. 
  • Improve access to primary healthcare in BC

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