ONA requests review of Grey Bruce Health Unit: Nurses, programs cut



    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has
requested that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care conduct a review of
the Grey Bruce Health Unit under section 82 of the Health Protection and
Promotion Act. The Heath Unit, which services residents in Owen Sound and
surrounding communities, has cut registered nursing positions and programs
following its move to a new multi-million-dollar waterfront building.
    ONA is concerned that management decisions about service delivery and the
cutting of public health nursing positions will result in the degradation of
its ability to deliver mandated services.
    "We are extremely concerned about cuts to staff and services at this
facility, and deeply disturbed by what we believe is the ongoing failure of
this Health Unit to provide its mandated programs to the community," says
Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, ONA President. Among the numerous cuts to public
health nursing care is a change to its Health Babies, Healthy Children
program.
    Home visiting by public health nurses is a proven strategy for ensuring a
healthy start to infant development and the well-being of families with
newborns. Grey Bruce Health Unit management is substantially reducing these
home visits, impacting our most vulnerable newborns.
    "Taking away home visits is unconscionable," says Haslam-Stroud. "Home
visits are the optimal way to ensure that new parents and their infants have a
solid start. Many parents and newborns will be forced to travel to Hanover,
Walkerton or Owen Sound. It's not ideal to try to asses a family's health and
well-being at a community site - it should be done in the home where a proper
and thorough assessment can take place and appropriate public health nursing
supports can be provided."
    Layoffs in the Family Health Team have also resulted in a 20- to
25-per-cent reduction in all programs and services, including prenatal classes
and mandatory program targets are not being met.
    ONA's request for a review is to ascertain whether the board of health is
providing the health programs and services in accordance with regulations and
guidelines for health units in the province. It also would assess the quality
of management's administration of the affairs of the board of health.
    "This health unit management is eroding services at a time when public
health is more important than ever," says Haslam-Stroud. "In Grey Bruce, we
have seen a centralization of services and a series of sub-office closures
that has made it difficult for those outside Owen Sound to access them. Since
2006, the nursing team has continually been eroded and month by month, it's
becoming more difficult for public health nurses to promote health and prevent
disease in the Grey Bruce community."
    These concerns and others have been expressed to the Health Minister, and
ONA is hopeful that an assessor will be assigned to look at this Health Unit's
practices. ONA 1st Vice-President Vicki McKenna will participate in the town
hall meeting in Owen Sound tomorrow evening about the future of public health.

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals working in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health,
the community, clinics and industry. ONA is celebrating 35 years of nursing
advocacy - a proud past, a powerful future.





For further information:

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, Cellular: (416) 986-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2369; Cellular: (416) 801-8958


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