Expert Nursing Panel Makes 91 Recommendations to Improve Patient Care at Sault Area Hospital

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, May 27, 2016 /CNW/ - An independent panel of nursing experts has made an unprecedented 91 recommendations to improve patient care in the 3C Acute Medical Short Stay Unit at Sault Area Hospital.

"The expert panel found that nursing professional practice and workload concerns raised by registered nurses are legitimate and justified," said Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "The panel made recommendations to address what our nurses know are insufficient base RN staffing levels, unsafe, unmanageable and dangerous nurse-patient ratios, a high level of patient acuity and activity that has left our dedicated RNs unable to provide quality care and meet their professional practice standards."

The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) is a panel of three nurse experts chosen to consider concerns from registered nurses and hospital management and make recommendations to address them. Calling in an IAC is a last resort when nurses and management cannot resolve issues.

The panel of three nurse experts heard evidence from the Unit's registered nurses and hospital management about patient care issues at a three-day hearing in early April. Key findings of the expert panel include:

  • Base RN staffing and nurse-to-patient ratio are inadequate and the medical unit required additional RN staffing;
  • Measures must be taken to address the concern that RNs were not able to regularly take their scheduled rest and meal breaks, leading to fatigue and low morale.

"The panel could clearly see the level of extreme fatigue and low morale on this unit," said Haslam-Stroud. "This was the third IAC hearing at Sault Area Hospital since 2012 – earlier IAC hearings have been held into the hospital's emergency department and hemodialysis unit. ONA urges this employer to take prompt action to repair understaffing and other issues that are hurting patient care. We welcome the opportunity to partner with hospital management to promptly implement these recommendations. As front-line RNs, we want to ensure our patients receive the safe, quality care they require. Nurses know our patients come first and they deserve better."

ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.    

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SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240,; Ruth Featherstone, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2267,


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