Independent Panel Makes 56 Recommendations to Fix Nursing Workload Concerns at Kingston General Hospital ICU

KINGSTON, ON, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) called in by the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) has made 56 recommendations to address the concerns of registered nurses about staffing and workload in Kingston General's ICU.

Following the three-day hearing in April, the panel has made recommendations in 12 areas that directly or indirectly impact nursing workload, including staffing, retention, culture, morale, communication and leadership.

"The IAC agrees with the Ontario Nurses' Association that the turnover of staff in the ICU is much higher than desired," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "The panel has recommended that the hospital should take a more proactive approach to staffing, especially as additional ICU beds are opened. The panel identified that the hospital's current proposed staffing plan is high risk and does not allow for increased staffing to accommodate demands of patient acuity and volumes."

Haslam-Stroud also says that, "Employing sufficient numbers of nurses in the ICU is vital to safe patient care and a quality practice setting, and the department must have an adequate number of nurses available to ensure coverage for increased patient demands, and replacement requirements at all times."

The need for improved trust and communication between the management and staff was demonstrated to the panel throughout the hearing; it also recognized low staff morale. The nursing experts determined that it is essential that trust and communication between the parties be re-established, to improve the quality of work life and the workplace environment for all staff.

ONA members have consistently reported concerns about nurse staffing levels in the ICU for the past 18 months and believed that KGH officials were failing to adequately address their concerns related to patient safety resulting from overly heavy workloads. RNs were also concerned that new and novice RNs were being asked to care for critically ill patients without adequate support.

Haslam-Stroud says that patients rely on safe, quality care in their hospital ICU. Ensuring that patients receive that level of care should be the goal of every hospital and every nurse in the unit. Achieving consistent staffing, and improving retention strategies including nursing workload, will lead to a quality practice environment. She strongly urges Kingston General Hospital management to implement the recommendations of this expert panel.

The report from this hearing is being shared with ONA leaders this week as they attend ONA's Provincial Coordinators Meeting in Kingston.

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

SOURCE: Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

Ontario Nurses' Association

Sheree Bond    Cell: (416) 986-8240;
Melanie Levenson   (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369;

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