Nurses feel effects of changes to orderlies at QEH

Ryan Ross
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Hospital administration says the way orderlies now assigned helps make connection with health-care team, patients

QEH Ambulatory

A change to the way orderlies are assigned to units at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has left some nurses exhausted and struggling to deal with aggressive patients, says a spokeswoman for the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union.

Mona O’Shea, the union’s president, said members have been left handling non-nursing duties and the change created an increased workload for them.

“This is through the whole building,” she said.

Under the current system, the QEH assigns orderlies to medical or surgical units, which doesn’t allow them to help out in other parts of the hospital.

That’s different than a few months ago when orderlies were part of a staffing pool and went where they were needed.

Orderlies help with non-nursing tasks, such as moving and turning patients.

There are about 17 permanent and casual orderlies at the QEH.

O’Shea said nurses have to do lifting of patients and are properly trained in body mechanics, but there are always situations that aren’t textbook scenarios.

“They do definitely feel the loss of them (orderlies),” she said.

Situations also arise where nurses are faced with patients who are aggressive or act out.

When that happens nurses don’t always have orderlies they can call for help, O’Shea said.

“They’re feeling a little unsure about that.”

O’Shea said the change has removed a resource for the nurses and they are feeling the effects.

“It’s been a value to them.”

Jamie MacDonald, the QEH’s chief administrative officer, said the hospital continues to evaluate any care it provides against the needs of the patients and there is a violence reduction and prevention committee to ensure the best resources are available to meet patients’ needs.

That includes patient care workers and other staff members who help nurses, MacDonald said.

“We have our psych attendants still and we have security staff that are also trained in managing patients who become aggressive.”

MacDonald said the QEH made the switch in how orderlies are assigned in November but had been looking at possible changes for a while.

Under the new system orderlies get to know the nurses, support staff and patients in the area they’re assigned to, MacDonald said.

“They’ve really become part of that whole clinical team to care for patients on that particular unit.”

MacDonald said the hospital tries to ensure patients receive the appropriate level of care by the most appropriate provider.

“This change in the orderlies would be one example of that so we continue to evolve the roles within the hospital to ensure our patients are very well looked after and staff are appropriate as well,” she said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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Recent comments

  • Joanne Macdonald
    January 27, 2014 - 16:53

    I don't know where you people work or worked, but I can assure you that my work day involves all aspects of nursing care including bathing, feeding, turning, lifting, as well as all emotional support for our patients and family members. We work as a team to provide the best possible care for our patients. As for complaining about the loss of orderlies from the Q EH nursing team, We have not had orderlies for a long time and I can say they were a great loss to our facility, ¿but we managed to adjust our work load to still provide great care for our patients.It truly saddens me to see such negative comments from the public regarding the role of the RN in the Health care team! I take great pride in the work I do and I know things have changed for RNS, BUT it doesn't mean things are easier! I really appreciate the comments positive comments from non nursing people! !

  • Stew
    January 26, 2014 - 17:39

    Stop attacking the RNs. The buck stops with them in terms of when something goes wrong. If their is a medication error, someone falls, or some other crisis on the unit, it all comes back on them. So cool it with demeaning comments. It is a high stress job and they earn every penny. I am not an RN but another health care professional who appreciates their concerns about the changes that are impacting patient care.

  • Amanda
    January 26, 2014 - 11:46

    Wow a lot of strong feelings coming out on this one! I personally never wanted to be a nurse because I know I lack the patience and the ability to cope with their schedules. Most of the older nurses I have encountered in non-medical settings seem frustrated and burnt out in life and I get it. Why are people getting so outraged that they are merely stating they miss having orderlies because they were an asset to their team, and made everyone's work more efficient? I don't see anything wrong with acknowledging how a group of people positively impacted your work, and now you feel their absence. @LCB just because you dealt with 'worse conditions' I'll say, doesn't make it right. Doing an entire shift without a break also isn't right! Happy, healthy nurses makes for a better hospital experience. This has got to suck for the patients as well. Think about how awful it would be if you were a larger person needing turning and you see two nurses you know do not have the strength to turn you safely (for you or them). How trusting and relaxed would you be in that situation? Also, people need to stop job shaming eachother!! Yes, there's a lot of unemployment, and under paid workers on PEI. That doesn't mean we get to judge everyone with a job when they try to better their situation!

  • don
    January 26, 2014 - 09:41

    Nurses do more work and knows more about the patients then a doctor does. take the time a doc spends with a patient then do the same with a nurse you will find the nurse wins out. but lots of doc's will look down on nurses as they do not have the MD in front of there name tag. so hospital want to know it all get off your big butts and do some work really see what nurses do. thank you nurses for all you do to help patients. lots of patients are scared and you help where as the doc and the want to be brains in the big fancy offices does noting.

  • Islander
    January 26, 2014 - 09:37

    I have had two major surgeries over the past 15 yrs, here and off Island. I can say the nurses in both facilities were top notch, professional and very hard working individuals who went beyond to help patients. I have also worked in a Uuion envirornment for 40 yrs,it does not matter what job or profession one pursues, in todays world there are ones who do very little, always complaining , and yes nothing seems to happen to them, they drag on the coat tails of others sometimes throughout their whole career with no disciplinary action. What happens here the hard working, dedictaed ones are all painted with the same brush and this is just not right. Lets face facts, it is what it is in the workplace today. Everyone gets hired to do a certain job and all of us should go to work and do the duties we agreed to when hired. In nursing, teaching, Police, Government just to name a few witness alot of this complaining on a daily basis. Health care is one busy profession and there is no place for bickering , back stabbing, lazy individuals. My praise to all the hard working, honest ones, you do a great job. Thank You.

  • Islander
    January 26, 2014 - 09:36

    I have had two major surgeries over the past 15 yrs, here and off Island. I can say the nurses in both facilities were top notch, professional and very hard working individuals who went beyond to help patients. I have also worked in a Uuion envirornment for 40 yrs,it does not matter what job or profession one pursues, in todays world there are ones who do very little, always complaining , and yes nothing seems to happen to them, they drag on the coat tails of others sometimes throughout their whole career with no disciplinary action. What happens here the hard working, dedictaed ones are all painted with the same brush and this is just not right. Lets face facts, it is what it is in the workplace today. Everyone gets hired to do a certain job and all of us should go to work and do the duties we agreed to when hired. In nursing, teaching, Police, Government just to name a few witness alot of this complaining on a daily basis. Health care is one busy profession and there is no place for bickering , back stabbing, lazy individuals. My praise to all the hard working, honest ones, you do a great job. Thank You.

  • K
    January 26, 2014 - 08:43

    Wow, some of you really have no idea about what's going on in the hospital these days and based on some comments here, I'm not sure you're even comprehending what was written in the first place. First of all I'm a clerk working on a nursing unit so I spend most of my time trying to help the staff on the floor accomplish their cares by making sure they have what they need and communicating with other departments for them. So for me, it's about what I witness, not me personally. Not one RN was complaining about LPNs or RCWs and yet one of you managed to accused them of doing so. It's like somehow you had to turn it around on the RNs so as to change the subject or create a new issue rather then deal with what the article was actually speaking about. Then on top of it, you have bitter retired nurses, who think just cause some of the equipment is better these day makes nursing easier. So wrong, the shear number of patient's and the idea that their family members seem to have and literally treat the hospital like a spa is rediculous. The complaints about dirty hair are maddening when your family members may have more important issues and may have died if the nurses weren't there for the real reasonthey are here, like dressing changes, feedings or being properly medicating. Which are also more complicated then years ago. And just so you know, a nurse is hit, pushed, slapped and verbally abused more then any other profession I have ever seen. The orderlies were of great assistance for the nurses with all these things and especially violent patients. The fact that they are only there during business hours Monday-Friday is the problem. Just cause the business day is done doesn't mean the patient are all settle and ready to rest for the night. From the things that I have witness, most nursing staff are overworked, underpaid, and completely unappreciated. To the RNs, I'm sorry people are so ignorant and I want you all to know that some of us get it and really are thankful. This also applies to the LPNs and RCWs too, great work you all do.

    • Jackofalltrades
      January 26, 2014 - 14:26

      I think perhaps why the LPN's and RCW's were brought up was because a while back when the province was wanting to allow LPN's to do more of the RN's duties, it was not well received by the RN's and it's union as was indicated in media reports.

  • Retired and todays nurses need a hand shake
    January 26, 2014 - 06:10

    I must say myself the hardest professions in today's world I believe is nursing and teaching, putting up with whining people in which they could never be happy at no cost,I needed medical attention last year and when a Rn came to my side to help me I knew I was in good care she who knew their job really professionally well,hats off to all nurses both past and present,don't let a few uneducated whiners get to you,keep up the great work and be proud of your good deeds.

    • GRATITUDE
      January 26, 2014 - 19:34

      Spent most of two months this past fall at QEH with a terminal case, family member, and all the while --and ever since-- had nothing but gratitude for every nurse, doctor and caregiver, helper, counselor, etc. for their genuine love and care for the invalid, and even for relatives who were at the bedside of the dying person 24/7. Never, during that time, did even one Staff member, or volunteer, disappoint or give cause for concern. It's painful to read what is sometimes written in the negative about those ANGELS!

  • Rs
    January 25, 2014 - 18:21

    Put an orderly in all areas 24 -7 they need them in emerg and icu the most and don't have them at all now

  • RN
    January 25, 2014 - 16:55

    Thank you "RN of 22 years" for having some intelligent input to this matter and backing up your profession. As a nurse myself working in a specialized primary care approached unit I personally find it infuriating to hear people say RNs are over paid and "whiny" as LCB chose to put it. I know many of my 12 hour shifts, myself and my co workers rarely get a lunch break. I make beds, I bathe my patients, I spend time sitting with families, I pass mediations and I think critically to keep your lived one alive. Nurses are the jack of all trades, they bust their butts off every day and the only feedback people take the time to give is negative. It's sad to read these comments.. Unfortunately all that negativity is from people who are uneducated on the matter and making ill-informed, bias opinions masked behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

    • LCB...(RN)
      January 26, 2014 - 04:47

      I beg to differ.I AM educated on the matter.I am not making ill informed, biased opinions. I also have RN friends who appreciate their jobs and realise how easy they actually have it compared to many.When you choose a profession, make sure you know what you are getting into. Many RN's never complain.I just can't stand reading more about the PEI RN union complaining about "exhausting" conditions when I know this is just not true. Do you realise that MOST departments in hospitals now work many a shift without breaks etc etc? You are not alone. Stop using the media to complain RN union! Many just do not want to hear about it in an economically depressed area where most make minimum wage

    • don
      January 26, 2014 - 14:27

      LCB...(RN) yes but lots of doc's look down on the nurses no mater what level you have as to some of them nurses are just as good if not better then doctors. i would like o see the big shots in government and ceo's and doc's do the jobs that nurses do.

  • w kennedy
    January 25, 2014 - 16:11

    The QE had one doctor on per 8hr. shift the last time I was out there. If you subtract from one you get ZERO for the walk ins. We still have Medicare though on paper. Since RN's get union wages not a lot can be afforded even on PEI where the rest of of us not in Gov. unions are unemployed and work at minimum wage ...if we are lucky. Apparently the teachers unions in maritimes also want more from the public teat.

  • patty cakes
    January 25, 2014 - 12:36

    I think I have to agree with LCB, gone are the days where nursing is about patient care, the whole patient. The nurses have been complaining for years, they are overworked, then the model of care came forward. Then they complained about that, now complaining they are tired from doing physical work when does it end. Staff are hired to do patient care, and that involves all the staff on the units not just the orderlies to do all the heavy work. Seeing comments about having to deal with addictions and mental health patients is very sad, those patients are also sick and require medical help. If you went to a nursing home and looked at LPN or RCW workload there would be no comparison to the heavy workload that the LPN and RCW'S do, that is just excepted as their jobs. There are also addicion staff that work alone, every shift and never complain about the increasingly heavy load both mentally and physically. Any health care location is getting heavier work loads and they don't go to the media complaining, they just do their jobs because that is what they got hired for. If the nurses continue to complain about "WORKING", maybe it might be better for patients if LPN's took over the units. There doesn't seem to be any complaining from the LPN's about their workloads. Gratitude for a job these days would be a blessing, there are many people who would gladly take those jobs and work with pride and care for the patients. Teams are a combination of all levels of staff who work together to make a plan that is best for the patient, and yes, there would still be teams without nurses, believe it or not!!!

    • JIMMY BUFFET
      January 25, 2014 - 21:44

      If I ever land at a hospital and need serious care I pray I have the care of a REAL nurse trained at a University . If they need help to move my ample frame I hope there are two orderlies available, they will need it . I believe you are just a bitter person ,do your job with a smile and try to get along with everyone .

  • Impatient patient.
    January 25, 2014 - 07:10

    What makes the difference between a clinical team and a cynical team is usually a nurse. Let's face it, if it weren't for our nurses, there'd be no teams at all.

  • LCB
    January 25, 2014 - 00:26

    I just HAVE to say something here.I was a nurse at a very acute care hospital (St Paul's in Vancuver BC) during the 1980's.I worked many acute and non acute areas and I cannot help but compare what nusrses do today and what we did then. I feel RN's especially do not work as hard as they used to.They must forget or do not realise that we had to lift, bathe, porter and wrestle with all our patients back then with out any help but each other as a team. There were no porters (servants) to cater to our every need/whim.We dischraged patients and took them to the front entrance.We took patients to various clinics and appt's. within the hospital.We went to other floors to get laundry.We used our own legs for what they were meant for and we actually LOOKED after ALL aspects of the patient. Nowadays many of these nurses with their degrees and entitled upbringing do not actually realise that true Nursing is a very physical job.There is so much equipment now to save nurses backs and that is wonderful. In my opinion this profession is getting spoiled,arrogant and very very whiney.Not to mention VERY well paid. So stop whining and be glad you have the jobs you have. The LPN's and RCW's do all your work anyway. And be glad you don't work twice as hard somewhere else for minimum wage.

    • RN for 22 years
      January 25, 2014 - 10:51

      Dear LCB I first want to thank you for your many years of hard work and dedication to you profession. As fellow RN for 22 years I can appreciate the many changes in the role of the RN over the years. I do NOT think RN's today feel "entitled spoiled arrogant or whiney". The acuity of the patients today has increased dramatically over the last 20 years!! and as a result, responsibility and workload has followed. Yes nursing is a physically demanding job but it also a mentally demanding job. The complexity we see in our clients is overwhelming at times. Yes ,we now have tools to aid in in providing care for our clients but we no longer have those patients that are independent with their care but require help in all areas of their ADL's. It is unfortunate that you feel the need to look down on your fellow RN's and have the inability to recognize the changes that have occurred in the health care setting over the last few years.

    • RN for 20 years
      January 26, 2014 - 10:35

      Re long time nurse comment, I do believe the union is speaking out for the lose of a team player, don't you realize our orderlies are part of our healthcare team theynot only work with RNs,they help the LPN, and RCW as well as the Docs. It just so happens the pei nurses union is speaking out about the lose of a part of the healthcare teams. Stop bashing the RNs. You obviously are not a practicing healthcare provided. I work in the area and most RN, LPN, RCW and orderlies are great friends at work and outside of work.

    • RN for 20 years
      January 26, 2014 - 10:34

      Re long time nurse comment, I do believe the union is speaking out for the lose of a team player, don't you realize our orderlies are part of our healthcare team theynot only work with RNs,they help the LPN, and RCW as well as the Docs. It just so happens the pei nurses union is speaking out about the lose of a part of the healthcare teams. Stop bashing the RNs. You obviously are not a practicing healthcare provided. I work in the area and most RN, LPN, RCW and orderlies are great friends at work and outside of work.

    • RN for 20 years
      January 25, 2014 - 20:15

      I would like to thank you RN of 22 years. Very well said. Very sad to see an old nurse eat her young with such comments, when it obvious she has not been up to speed with the changes in the nurses role in the health care team. Times have changed, as well as roles in health care. I very much appreciate all the health care members that work together and to lose a part of that team affects all members of the team that provide care. Some people obviously don't understand the complexity of our system.

    • longtimenurse
      January 25, 2014 - 20:57

      LCB I couldn't agree more!! New RN's will never know how easy they have it! Stop looking down on LPN's and RCW's, they are doing the parts of the job that you complained about in the first place!

  • Not safe
    January 24, 2014 - 22:44

    With the amout of paients that require mental Heath help ,because of lack of resources ,combined with addictions another area with lack of resources . Going without orderlies is unsafe .an To expect nursing staff to handle such clientele that may require extra supervision , when they have others that are critically I'll . Some mental Heath and addictions are becomeing more in hospital population as well as clients waiting for long term placement .dementa units , beds just do not pop up . The mentioned population because acute crisis there is hard to get help for them if there are not the resources .for individual needs . Bad decision .Not appropriate . At all .