MNU Responds to Seven Oaks ER Early Conversion to Urgent Care

Publish date: Tuesday, July 09, 2019

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MNU President Darlene Jackson issued the following statement in response to the WRHA/Shared Health announcement that Seven Oaks ER will be converted to urgent care on July 22, 2019:

"Nurses are disappointed and frustrated by today's announcement that the Seven Oaks ER will be converted to urgent care on July 22, 2019.

This morning, health officials met with nurses to confirm that EMS protocols will be adjusted to divert higher acuity patients to tertiary sites, and an advertising campaign will begin to inform the public of this last minute change of plans. It should be noted this is a significant departure from the initial planned conversion date of September 10, 2019. It is important to note that no staffing changes will occur for Seven Oaks nurses until September 20, meaning it will be two months before nurses move to new positions as a result of the conversion.

We have been advised that the hospital cannot adequately staff the ER after July 22. This means that patient safety could be jeopardized due to a shortage of nurses and other front-line staff. This is a mess of the government's creation and is another indication they are having trouble recruiting and retaining nurses.

Our major concern with this decision is that it will increase patient volumes and acuity at the remaining ERs without sufficient added capacity and staffing in place to meet this demand. By rushing through these changes and ignoring the advice of nurses, they have created serious human resource challenges. This also makes it increasingly difficult to adequately recruit and retain nurses, particularly in highly specialized areas such as emergency care.

We are also concerned this decision was made without a comprehensive risk assessment as recommended by their own health care consultant, Dr. Peachey.

Added capacity depends on sufficient staffing; you cannot open beds without nurses in place to care for those patients. As reported by the Winnipeg Free Press today, there are at least 17 vacancies at St. Boniface ER alone, and the hospital cannot open the newly added beds due to staff shortages. HSC and Grace are already dealing with serious capacity and workload issues following prior cuts and closures. HSC has seen a significant uptick in patient volumes, and we know the Grace ER is relying on agency nurses to adequately staff the facility.

We believe the community deserves a fully-functioning ER as it serves a large catchment area including rural regions. For nearly two years, we have been calling on the government to rethink this plan and consult with nurses. Today, we continue to see the consequences of a plan that is focused on saving money, not improving care."

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