Registered nurses led a protest against staffing changes at the new Lewisporte Health Centre today.
The facility houses “47 long-term care beds, including one designated for palliative care; a 12-person dementia bungalow; as well as an after-hours clinic that provides a full range of medical and emergency services for 15 communities,” according to the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union.
If the changes the nurses have heard about actually come to pass, nurses say, the whole centre will be covered each night by a single registered nurse (RN), rather than the two RNs currently working the late shift.
In addition to the rally, the union has issued a written statement on the staffing changes.
Union president Debbie Forward was at the rally and has been attempting to draw attention to the issue by way of social media.
Speaking with The Telegram by phone following the rally event, Forward said the union is not objecting to Central Health, or any provincial health authority, introducing a new model of care that would result in staffing changes on a shift.
However, Forward said, having a single RN to deal with 47 long-term residents as well as an emergency service for a catchment area covering 9,000 people is unacceptable.
“It will have a negative impact on the care that’s provided,” she claimed.
Forward estimated about 100 people attended today’s rally event.
Forward said members of the nurses object to the change, pointing out having one registered nurse on a shift, wherever the service is offered, could result in recruitment and retention problems, as new graduates might end up being thrown into situations they are unfamiliar with or consultation between healthcare providers become limited.
There is a doctor on call for the nurse on shift overnight at the Lewisporte Health Centre, Forward said, and the long-term care area will be staffed with other health professionals. However, she said, loss of an RN could very well lead to slower response in the event of complicated cases or emergency situations.