RPNs can ease ER crisis at Huron Perth's Seaforth

    Another rural hospital cuts services as McGuinty government turns its

    LONDON, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Expanding the scope of practice for
Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) can ease the Emergency Room (ER) crisis at
Seaforth Community Hospital, says Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario
Council of Hospital Unions OCHU/CUPE, which represents 40 workers at Seaforth.
    "We have to respond to the shortage of nurses," Hurley says. "But cutting
emergency room (ER) services is not an acceptable way to respond to inadequate
resources or staffing."
    Hurley encouraged hospitals to expand the scope of practice of RPNs,
graduates of a two-year program, to better serve the public.
    "By realigning nursing duties across the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance
and using RPNs appropriately, we can address the nursing shortage at
Seaforth," Hurley says.
    As of February 7, Seaforth Community Hospital will cut its 24-hour ER
down to 12 hours, and remain open only from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Hospital
officials say that ambulances will be diverted to other hospitals during the
shut-down times.
    But Hurley warned that it is the chronic underfunding of the health
system underlies ER closures at Seaforth, and elsewhere, and not just the
nursing shortage.
    "Cutting ER services is a direct response to the financial pressures on
the health care system," Hurley says. "This is yet another example of a rural
hospital losing services in a wave of underfunding and restructuring that the
McGuinty government is forcing onto hospitals."

For further information:

For further information: Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell:
(416) 884-0770; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: (613) 878-1431

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