Registered Nursing Positions Slashed at Leamington Hospital: ONA says patients will suffer

    TORONTO, April 2 /CNW/ - The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) says that
patients will suffer following Leamington District Memorial Hospital's
slashing of registered nursing positions and bed closures.
    The hospital has announced that it is cutting seven full-time and six
part-time registered nurses - the equivalent of cutting almost 20,000 hours of
nursing care per year to the community. Leamington District Memorial Hospital
(LDMH) has also accelerated the closure of its rehabilitation service, which
stopped taking new patients on March 23. The total number of hospital beds
will drop from 82 to 65.
    "Sadly, it is the residents of Leamington and the surrounding area who
will suffer from these ill-advised cuts to nursing," says ONA President Linda
Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Any ideas that management may have of simply shipping
patients to Windsor hospitals for care simply won't work - Windsor hospitals
are already at capacity, especially in the areas of intensive care, rehab and
palliative care with backlogs in their ERs, and they simply can't safely cope
with more patients. Patient care is suffering now, and the community badly
needs every RN position it has now in Leamington."
    ONA warned last February that cuts were likely to come to Leamington,
noting that registered nursing positions and nursing care hours across Ontario
were being cut as hospitals worked to balance their deficit budgets on the
backs of RNs and patient care.
    Leamington District Hospital will close half of its intensive care unit
beds, close its six rehabilitation beds and its rehab program, move its
obstetrics department to another floor where it will be part of a mix of
medical-surgery beds and integrate some services with Windsor hospitals.
    "These moves follow a pattern that registered nurses know only too well,"
says Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, ONA President. "Every RN cut represents 1,950
hours per year of patient care, and research clearly shows that our patients
will suffer a 7-per-cent increased risk of developing complications and even
dying when workloads for RNs increase."
    Haslam-Stroud also notes that during these difficult economic times -
especially in southwestern Ontario - research shows that people will have the
need to access health-care services more often. "In this area that has been so
hard hit by job losses, access to health-care services is and will be
desperately needed," she says. "The decision to cut services, close beds and
cut thousands of hours of RN care is a very bad one."
    She urges the residents of Leamington to speak out about the
deterioration of health care in their community.
    "ONA has launched a campaign to make it easy for Ontarians to express
their disapproval of registered nursing cuts," she says. "The community should
visit to learn more and send an e-mail to
their MPP."

    ONA is the union representing 54,000 registered nurses and allied health
professionals and more than 10,000 nursing students providing care 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

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