TORONTO, Feb. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - As thousands of Community Care Access Centre health professionals continue to walk the picket lines, stories continue to emerge of the CCAC employers' contingency plans failing patients.
The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members have been on strike since January 30 over wages and workloads. CCACs and hospitals continue to tell the media that home care patients are receiving care; what they fail to mention is that new referrals – including our frail elderly, those needing home care or specialized geriatric services and/or long-term care placement – aren't being assessed or care provided to them.
"ONA is aware that hundreds and hundreds of patients are on waiting lists (including 600 patients in one CCAC alone) as CCACs try to train accounting staff to do the highly skilled and specialized work of our Care Coordinators and special care teams," said ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Hospital CEOs may be sending their referrals to the CCACs, but no one is talking about what happens to them after they're referred – we believe that all but the most high-needs patients are falling through the cracks."
Haslam-Stroud is calling for transparency from the CCACs, details and an update on the contingency plans in place, and how many new patients are being properly assessed and care plans developed and implemented.
"Registered nurses receive referrals for wound assessments from doctors, family members, home patients and long-term care facilities," she said. "What kind of quality care is the government and CCAC employers providing our patients when HR staff and accounting staff are doing wound assessment referrals instead of registered nurses?"
Approximately 3,000 CCAC health professionals were forced on strike last Friday when the employer refused to provide them with a small wage increase similar to that awarded to the province's 57,000 registered nurses working in hospitals, long-term care and public health. The CCAC health professionals had a two-year wage freeze in their last contract, which expired in March, 2014. Their employers were offering them another one-year wage freeze in the new contract.
Haslam-Stroud also reiterated that "ONA remains ready to return to the bargaining table at any time and the employer is aware of this. The ball is now in their court."
ONA members working in CCACs include Care Coordinators, who are registered nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, social workers, speech therapists and team assistants and other highly qualified professionals. They assess their patients and develop personalized care plans for them, arrange services in the home or the community and provide direct care through Rapid Response nursing teams, mental health teams in schools, and palliative care teams. Care Coordinators are there for patients when they are discharged from hospital and arrange placements in long-term care facilities.
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care, the community, public health, clinics and industry.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association