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