VANCOUVER—As invaluable partners in B.C.’s public health care system, CUPE 1004 nurses working in the Downtown Eastside exemplify this year’s National Nursing Week (May 10-16) theme, “We Answer the Call,” says CUPE Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC) chair Andrew Ledger.
CUPE nurses on the front line of the ongoing opioid crisis, says Ledger, continue to answer the call by providing new innovations to prevent overdoses—such as the delivery of a safe supply of prescription alternatives to the poisoned street drugs that continue to kill, on average, more than four British Columbians every day.
“Our CUPE nurse members have fought multiple crises this past year in delivering care for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 global pandemic,” says Ledger, noting that CUPE nurses continue to provide life-saving service despite the heavy emotional and physical toll that these crises have taken on their own lives.
“These members have faced the daunting challenges of increasing homelessness experienced by patients, and an ongoing dramatic rise in overdoses and overdose deaths, and they continue to answer the call every day.”
CUPE 1004 represents approximately 40 nurses who work for the PHS Community Services Society. Working in both housing and primary health care clinics, these nurses provide care to residents and clients with a wide variety and complexity of acute and chronic illnesses or conditions including communicable diseases, addictions, mental health and general health issues. They perform assessments, conduct referrals to physicians or psychiatrists, administer medication, and provide treatment as well as recovery support.