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Nurses concerned they can’t provide proper care in crowded hospitals, says union

Posted: November 26, 2019

(Novemeber 22, 2019)

By: Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Citizen

Sean McKenny from the Ottawa and District Labour Council talks to the media during a press conference in Ottawa Thursday Nov 21, 2019.

Nurses are increasingly worried they are not fulfilling the requirements of their licenses because of the need to do more with less in crowded hospitals, says an Ottawa representative of the Ontario Nurses Association.

Marc Page, bargaining unit president of ONA Local 083 at The Ottawa Hospital, said nurses at the hospital are experiencing distress because of overcrowding and too few resources.

“We seem to be hearing more and more now that nurses are worried about their license and worried about being reported to the College (of Nurses)” for not providing the kind of care they should, said Page.

“They are experiencing moral distress over sending patients home without the proper care, interventions and supports required so they know it is not a matter of if they will be back, but when.”

Page was one of half a dozen spokespeople for unions representing health workers who talked at a press conference sponsored by the Ottawa and District Labour Council on Thursday. They are part of a campaign to protest provincial health cuts.

At the press conference, Page said nurses are often on the receiving end of public frustration because they are seen as its face.

“Nurses are worrying about the type of care they are providing,” he said. Often, in emergency, patients get sent home who will likely have to return to the hospital.

Other representatives said long-term underfunding through a series of governments has left Ontario with a system that hasn’t caught up with the rest of the country and is badly prepared for the health demands of an aging population.

As a result, hospitals run almost constantly over capacity and ever aspect of care is affected. At The Ottawa Hospital, one of the spillover effects has been with paramedics who experienced 329 “level zero” days earlier this year when no ambulance was available for 911 calls.

“Patients and their families are already frustrated and angry with a system that has let them down. Any further cuts will only worsen the situation,” said Page.

The Ontario government has introduced numerous changes and efficiencies to health care, some of which are yet to take place.

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam of CUPE 503, which represents long-term care and paramedics at the City of Ottawa, said she believes earlier announced proposals by the province to amalgamate paramedics and public health units are still on the table with ongoing consultations that are expected to result in a report next spring.

Hayley Chazan, Heath Minister Christine Elliott’s spokesperson, said the province will not amalgamate ambulance services. It is changing the funding model for public health, though with municipalities now picking up more of the cost, capped at 10 per cent.

Unions representing health workers will be among those taking part in an Ontario Health Coalition rally against health cuts at TD Place Arena on Dec. 7.

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