'We need respect': Overworked Kelowna hospital staff bristle after being given art supplies

Art supplies rattle KGH staff

A new initiative to support staff at Kelowna General Hospital appears to have missed the mark with some employees.

Castanet received a photo of a colouring poster and Crayola markers from a KGH employee, who is remaining anonymous to protect their employment.

“Hospital bed shortage, and COVID outbreaks at KGH, our unit received a poster-sized colouring sheet with markers today from leadership as a way to boost morale?" the employee said. "This what they think nurses on an extremely busy and short staffed unit need at a time like this?”

Interior Health confirmed the colouring poster was a suggestion to "support staff to have dedicated break time where they can ‘turn off.'"

"Posters have been distributed to units at KGH that wanted them as an option for staff who want to participate. Nurses deserve their breaks and this is an option nurses can participate in on their breaks if they choose," IH said in a statement.

But the KGH employee who shared the poster with Castanet felt the initiative was tone-deaf.

"We need more nurses. We need hospital beds. We need to provide safe care for our patients. We need a safe place to park our vehicles. We need on-site childcare. We need respect from IH leadership. How about we start having those discussions?" the employee said.

"In the meantime, if a patient is asking where their nurse is, not to worry, she’s in the corner colouring in her colouring book," the worker continued.

Small emergency rooms across the Interior have been forced to close periodically due to a lack of staff while Interior Health desperately tries to recruit staff, including offering bonuses for some positions.

The BC Nurses' Union has been touring the Interior of the province in recent weeks.

“Staffing levels sometimes sit dangerously at 50 percent. This cannot continue to be the norm. Patient care is at risk," BCNU vice president Adriane Gear said during a stop in Cranbrook.

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