When she thinks about the toll a lack of nursing resources is having on her family, Stephanie Hill Davie is overcome with emotion.
“Owen has no muscle tone, so he needs constant supervision because he can easily roll off of devices,” Hill Davie said. “I’ve done simple things like go to the washroom and have come back and he’s choked, vomitted and blue, and he needs resuscitation immediately.”
She said Owen has qualified for 168 hours a week of nursing services but starting last fall, those hours have been dwindling. Since April, those hours have dropped for 56 a week.
She’s now at her wits’ end.
She has been in touch with the nursing support services’ coordinator and the nursing agency. She has also reached out to the province’s patient quality care review board, an ombudsperson, local MLA, the B.C. health minister, the province’s premier and even the prime minister, even though she knows health care doesn’t fall under the federal government.
“It’s all over the news that there’s a nursing shortage within British Columbia,” Hill Davie said. “Why isn’t the health minister looking at the programs that he already has in place to help families? And why he hasn’t recognized that there’s a crisis for a lot of families?”
According to the BC Nurses’ Union, upwards of 25,000 nurses are needed to staff the province’s health care system over the next 10 years. The number includes new nurse positions and replacement of retiring nurses.
In an emailed statement, the Ministry of Health told CTV News, “Our government is committed to providing children and youth with complex needs the healthcare services they need to live in their home and community.”
“While we cannot speak to individual patient cases, the ministry and Provincial Health Services Authority are aware of this patient and a nursing support services program coordinator is working with the family and his health care team to support him,” the ministry said.
Hill Davie said if the family does not receive the nursing support they need, she and her husband will have to take on the role as Owen’s care taker.
“It’s forcing my husband and I into caregiver burnout,” she said. “All three of my kids deserve a mom. They don’t deserve one person providing care to one child.”
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Jazz Sanghera