SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, Jan. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Concerned that unsafe RN
staffing levels and the large geographic size of Sault Area Hospital's
new ER have compromised patient safety, registered nursing members of
the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) have called for an Independent
Assessment Committee to examine the issue.
From May 1 to 3, a panel of three nursing experts will hear evidence
from Sault Area Hospital nurses about the negative impact on patient
care caused by inadequate RN staffing levels. The registered nurses
have consistently provided written documentation to hospital
administrators outlining their inability to properly and safely care
for patients visiting the ER, but the hospital has refused to staff the
department with the appropriate number of RNs. The panel will consider
the evidence and make recommendations.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN notes that "registered nurses in
this busy emergency department are concerned that they're unable to
meet their professional standards because base staffing isn't
sufficient to cover patient care needs or the fluctuations in the
acuity and volume of patients here."
Haslam-Stroud believes that balancing the budget has taken precedence at
the expense of the care patients receive.
"The hospital has implemented a smoke and mirrors strategy that presents
to the public the optics of a less busy ER waiting room," says
Haslam-Stroud. "But they've simply moved patients out of the front ER
waiting room and into a special internal waiting room called See and
Treat, where patients wait almost as long. The lack of meaningful
improvement in wait times is directly due to not enough RNs working in
this internal area. There are also ambulance offload delays because
there simply aren't enough nurses to take over care of these patients."
An Independent Assessment Committee - or IAC - addresses the
professional workload complaints of registered nurses. A hearing is
called only when the nurses and management have attempted at length to
settle workload issues internally. An IAC hearing is a last-resort
effort to determine whether nurses are being assigned more work than is
consistent with the provision of proper patient care.
ONA is the union representing 57,000 front-line RNs and allied health
professionals and more than 13,000 nursing student affiliates providing
care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health,
the community, industry and clinics.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association
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