Registered Nurses Say Patient Care Will Suffer As Northumberland Hills
Hospital Cuts Nurses, Beds, Services

COBOURG, ON, March 8 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is warning that cutting the equivalent of almost 10 full-time registered nurses (RNs), closing beds and closing diabetes services and physiotherapy programs at Northumberland Hills Hospital will impact the quality of patient care.

ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN says the hospital board's reassurances that it will maintain quality and safe patient care are misleading. "You cannot cut the number of hours of registered nursing care by nearly 20,000 hours per year and not see a decline in patient care," says Haslam-Stroud.

"Adding even one extra patient to an average RN workload increases the rates of morbidity - complications - and mortality - death - by seven per cent," Haslam-Stroud adds. "This community has now joined a list of Ontario hospitals that have attempted to balance the books on the backs of nurses - and quality patient care. In the past eight months alone, more than 3.2 million hours per year of RN care has been cut."

The hospital announced last week that it will close 34 beds, its diabetes clinic, its outpatient rehabilitation clinic and cut RNs - to balance its budget. Beds will be cut in the complex continuing care, interim long-term care, and alternate level of care beds.

"The closure of Northumberland's diabetes patient programs leaves those suffering from the disease in a very vulnerable position," adds Haslam-Stroud. "There are no specialized resources in the community for our diabetes patients to turn to, and we'll see an increase in diabetes complications."

ONA's Local Bargaining Unit President will make a submission this Wednesday at the Ontario Health Coalition's hearing in Cobourg about the impact of the cuts and closures. Cindy Sandercock, RN, will also join members of OPSEU at a rally at the hearing, being held at the Lion's Club, 414 River Road in Cobourg. The hearings are being held from 3:30 to 6:30 pm and all members of the public are welcome. The Health Coalition is collecting the concerns and ideas from Ontarians and compiling a report to be presented to the government to ensure their voices are heard.

The Ontario Nurses' Association is the union representing 55,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals and more than 12,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430 or Cell: (416) 926-8240; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369

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