Orangeville hospital asks staff to work extra weekend shifts amid staffing shortage: union
Published Saturday, January 22, 2022 9:45PM EST
A union representing thousands of Ontario health-care workers said a hospital in Orangeville asked its staff to work extra shifts this weekend as it is facing a staffing shortage.
According to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Headwaters Health Care Centre put an urgent call to staff to pick up extra hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The union said in the past 24 hours, some of the hospital's kitchen staff were redeployed to help nurses on inpatient floors.
Speaking to CP24 Saturday afternoon, Sharleen Stewart, the union's president, said the staffing situation in hospitals in the province is concerning.
"What we're seeing here is the fact that hospitals have to take this into their own hands. And they have the ability to do that with the emergency orders. And they are calling on non-regulatory staff to assist a critically short-staffed nursing component inside these hospitals," said Stewart.
"And nurses are calling me concerned about the fact that number one, these nonregulated staff are there to assist them. They are not trained to do nursing skills, which they are not doing. But at the same time, it's adding pressure onto these already overburdened and overworked nurses to try and direct the staff on what to do," she added.
Stewart said Premier Doug Ford and his government needs to act now and address the staffing crisis across the health-care system.
"Premier Ford, your hospitals are broken. You need to deal with this now. Today, we've called on him to bring us together to develop the Health Human Resources plan. Workers need to see action, not hear words of hope," she said.
When asked about the situation, a representative for Headwaters hospital did not directly answer CP24's questions instead directed us to a post on their website from the president and chief executive officer. In the post, Kim Delahunt said 4.8 per cent of the hospital's 925 staff, physicians and midwives are sick and self-isolating because of COVID-19. She noted that even with the absences, "the hospital has been maintaining sufficient staffing levels."
Delahunt did say that some staff have been redeployed to other areas with the highest need, including nursing staff from ambulatory care clinics and operating rooms now providing nursing care on inpatient units.
She added that those in the Medical Device Reprocessing Department have been redeployed to support dietary and environmental services, as well as patient portering and wayfinding needs.
"Daily staffing meetings with our leaders help plan daily and future needs. Shifts that are proposed to staff, are discussed in advance as much as possible, so they know where they will be working during their upcoming shift," she wrote.
"Unit managers are providing redeployed staff with a buddy to ensure there is support on the units, and there are ongoing huddles with managers to make sure everything is running well."
Hospitals in Ontario have been scrambling to boost their staff as the number of patients with COVID-19 continues to rise. That combined with the high number of staff contracting the virus and becoming unavailable to work, hospitals are under significant capacity pressures.
On Saturday, Ontario said there are now more than 4,000 covid-19 patients admitted in hospitals.
In Peel Region, Trillium Health Partners (THP) are asking non-clinical staff to "provide support to frontline care teams" over the coming weeks due to a high number of patients, including 276 with COVID-19, in its hospitals -- Credit Valley, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre.
"This time limited, volunteer program will provide support to units experiencing the greatest pressures and allow clinical teams to focus on direct patient care," THP spokesperson Amit Shilton said in an e-mail to CP24 Friday evening.
Some of the responsibilities of those staff include maintaining patient supplies and equipment, on-unit administrative support such as calling staff for shifts and answering phones, patient rounding and communication and meal assistance.