LETTERS – Healthcare workers aren’t overworked, at least not in the North

(Image: CFCJ-TV)

Straight to the point. I disagree with health care workers claiming they are overworked; maybe a few facilities in the Lower Mainland. Overall, not in Northern B.C., that’s for sure.

I received my second COVID dose this afternoon, only so I could fly up here to Fort Nelson, from Kamloops via Prince George. Driving this last Tuesday, 16 hours straight through with three 10 minute breaks, two for fuel, for 1,300 kilometers where the first eight hours was flurries with freezing rain! I didn’t want a COVID shot(s), but was forced into it so I could fly next time, rather than drive.

I had my second shot at the Fort Nelson Health Unit, 5217 Airport Drive, at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon. I was there for 20 minutes and during that time I was the only ‘patient’ there, whereas there were seven employees doing…..?? They were whispering so I couldn’t hear their conversations; I’m quite certain they were not discussing patients from their reactions.

If the health care system is stressed, send some of these workers, and others from around B.C., to where they are required to relieved stress so those who need it can take some time off. Maybe even send the worn-out worker up north to a more quiet facility.

I travel for my trade work. I am a mechanical insulator; high in demand this time of year! I go through ‘hell’ doing my job. I had a stretch where for 11 weeks, I was home for only five days. My last stretch was 35 days away from home doing priority winterization at the Fort Nelson Gas Plant.

I live in a hotel. I work 10-11 hours a day for 13 days, then a day off, or work same hours for 21 days, then three days off. I work outdoors 90% of the day. Temperatures have ranged from minus 14 to minus 37 the last two weeks. There is about 45 centimeters of snow on the ground and the pipes I am insulating are 20 centimeters off the ground!

I deal with every element, plus insulation fibers, possible H2S Gas, razor sharp metal and knives, on my knees for 5-7 hours a day, safety glasses frosted up trying to do my job! Insulators have some of the worst jobs on the face of the planet.

Three months ago here, I had a 450-pound bare steam valve in a 12″ piping system just meters from a power boiler. The surface temperature was several hundred degrees Celsius, I am soaked in sweat within 15 minutes, when it gets to a steady drip off my forehead, I know I must take a cool down break.

Two days ago, I climbed 125 feet straight up the thermo-oxidizer flare stack to install a custom-made insulation cover to stop some sensors from freezing up. I could tell you stories! My partner and I once did seven consecutive 16 hour shifts to insulate a steam turbine, while it was running: the heat, noise, and hazardous insulation material we used…. my partner has since past.

I hope you might understand, the nurses do not have it that bad, nor over worked! I challenge any single one of them to come do my job for just one day! One hour! Tomorrow morning I will be on my knees, minus 25, dark working with a headlamp attached to my hardhat, wearing full winter gear, steel toed winter boots, fire resistant insulated coveralls, balaclava, safety glasses, fire resistant parka, wearing a two way radio, thick winter gloves and laughing at those who think they have it tough!


About Mel Rothenburger (9641 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on LETTERS – Healthcare workers aren’t overworked, at least not in the North

  1. Colin, why do you think anyone is interested in your long journey up to Fort Nelson, you could have easily gotten your vaccinations last summer without taking this arduous journey. Think of it as your penance for not getting them locally 6 months ago when you weren’t busy. Speaking of not being busy, you say you’re “high in demand this time of year” this suggests you’re not busy at other times of the year, doesn’t this give you time to recover and rest from the hard winter months? I don’t recall the nurses having long breaks over the last 20 months to rest and recover. Moreover, why don’t you take some vacation time during the winter season to rest and recover, no-one is putting a gun to your head to work. Is it because this is the time of year when you make your most money and chose to do this work? The nurses haven’t the same choices which you have, they have a professional responsibility to perform aid and over the past 20 months they haven’t had the vacation/rest time you’ve had. Maybe it’s this small provincial outpost where the nurses aren’t busy and not just “a few facilities in the Lower Mainland”, after all it seems rather foolish to take that long trek up Noth just to get a second shot, could it have been because the local clinics were too busy with the limited nurses? You chose not to get the shot when distribution was easily accessible. You chose this line of work knowing the difficulty this time of year. Now you’re whining, get over yourself.

  2. No mention of the mental costs for nurses. Colin you do not take home the memory of a toddler who died on his/her shifts. You do not take home the pain of telling their loved ones that their mom can’t be visited while she slowly dies. You will probably never burnout and thank your lucky stars!

  3. I am always enthused when I hear or read an opinion deviating from the consensual narrative. Well written, controversial letter. Good job Colin!

  4. Ian MacKenzie // December 21, 2021 at 7:03 AM // Reply

    Colin – You should get another job! Otherwise, like your past (passed?) partner you may be joining him well before your allotted time. There’re jobs galore waiting to be filled right now.

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