Service may be adjusted due to staff shortages, Glenbrook Lodge warns

Bonnie Belec bbelec@thetelegram.com
Published on October 22, 2013
Glenbrook Lodge
— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Family members with loved ones at Glenbrook Lodge are being warned about the possible side-effects of staff shortages at the long-term care facility in St. John’s, The Telegram has learned.

“Glenbrook Lodge is currently facing staffing challenges. As a result there are some days when we find ourselves working short on a particular unit and we may have to adjust the delivery of care to our residents,” says a memorandum to families from Maj. Rex Colbourne.

“As well we may have to cancel non-urgent appointments needing escorts if family members are not available to assist,” says the document obtained by The Telegram.

When contacted Monday, Colbourne, Glenbrook’s executive director, referred questions about the memo to Eastern Health.

Eastern Health has told The Telegram, and reiterated the point Monday, that it is refusing to answer questions regarding long-term care in St. John’s.

During the past few weeks there have been many stories written about staffing issues and how families of residents say it is affecting patient care at another facility in St. John’s — the Hoyles-Escasoni Complex.

Stories have centred around family members, residents and workers who have expressed concerns about such issues as medications, the level of patient care, nutrition and understaffing.

The stories first came about when Eastern Health announced it had saved $22.7 million and reduced 230 full-time equivalents positions as of June 30 through operational improvement initiatives launched in May 2012.

In response to those stories, Eastern Health issued a statement Oct. 4 in which CEO Vickie Kaminski said, “When I announced our operational improvement initiatives I clearly stated at that time these initiatives would not have any impact on the quality and safety of patient, resident and client care.  I believe we are achieving that objective.”

Eastern Health is continuing with initiatives which aim to save $43 million and reduce 550 full-time equivalent positions over two years.

Kaminski and Health Minister Susan Sullivan said staffing issues raised by family members, residents and unions are not as a result of this initiative.

However, they both acknowledge Eastern Health has “been experiencing a challenge recently in ensuring that we do have the required number of staff on a shift due to leave and recruitment issues which we are trying to address.”

In the memorandum from Glenbrook Lodge, Colbourne says that facility is also feeling the pressure and is working with Eastern Health to address the challenges.

“However, this is not something that can be corrected overnight, as we must seek to recruit staff for the required disciplines where there are currently shortages,” he tells family members in the memo.

“In the meantime we are attempting to replace sick calls, bring in staff on overtime and replacing staff from other nursing disciplines to help with care. We are also collecting data on how the shortage is affecting care, monitoring daily needs and changing approaches to best suit needs,” he says, asking for patience and understanding during the challenging days as staff do their best “under these very difficult circumstances,” to provide quality care to residents.

Glenbrook Lodge is owned and operated by the Governing Council of the Salvation Army in Canada.

bbelec@thetelegram.com