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VANCOUVER ISLAND, British Columbia (LifeSiteNews) — A British Columbia hospital has assigned a “2SLGBTQIA+ liaison nurse” to offer what it describes as an “important service” despite the ongoing staffing crisis at hospitals across Canada.

On January 10, British Columbia Island Health announced their first “2SLGBTQIA+ Liaison Nurse” position at Royal Jubilee Hospital as part of a program to make those who claim to be LGBT feel welcomed at the hospital.

“This new liaison nurse position is a wonderful addition to our care teams and will provide an important service,” Island Health board chair Leah Hollins said in a press release. “This is an important step as Island Health works to improve health supports for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”

According to the press release, the new program was introduced to “enhance the physical and psychological safety, as well as the overall comfort, of 2SLGBTQIA+ people who attend the hospital.”

Island Health defended the decision, claiming “research shows that there are significant systemic barriers that impact 2SLGBTQIA+ people’s willingness and ability to access care.”

The program is already underway as registered nurse Emily Wyatt started her new role in December.

“Ultimately, our goal is to ensure healthcare provided to people from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is patient-centered and psychologically, physically, and culturally safe,” Wyatt said.

While Wyatt will be “providing emotional support, healthcare advocacy, preventive harm reduction, education, and connection/referral to community and social resources,” the hospital is suffering from a severe understaffing crisis.

In July, hospital understaffing became so widespread that some major hospitals on Vancouver Island, including Royal Jubilee Hospital, were forced to shut down operating rooms, postponing surgeries for hundreds of patients.

Between September 6 and December 16, 2022, extreme staffing shortages meant Royal Jubilee Hospital had to close operating rooms for a total of 69 days.

The assignment of a “2SLGBTQIA+” nurse to Royal Jubilee raises concerns about being both unnecessary and ill-timed considering the staff shortage. Furthermore, it is unclear if those accessing the new program will be given prioritized access to care above other patients.

LifeSiteNews contacted Island Health for clarification on both these points but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Hospitals across Canada have becoming increasingly understaffed in recent years, with one report revealing that Canadians must wait an average of 27.7 weeks to receive health care.

Nonetheless, British Columbia is still banning unvaccinated healthcare workers from working in provincial facilities despite an ongoing healthcare worker shortage, leading many to suggest that politics is being placed over patient welfare.