Nursing cuts leave opposition appalled, shocked

Ryan Ross
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Health P.E.I.’s decision to cut five nursing positions at two of its facilities that deal with mental health and addictions has the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union wondering how it will impact the quality of care for patients.

Mona O’Shea, the union’s president, said the nurses heard that Health P.E.I. planned to cut five registered nurse positions at the Prince County Hospital mental health unit and the inpatient unit at the Provincial Addictions Facility in Mount Herbert.

“The staff are just feeling quite overwhelmed at the workload as it currently is and then to end up losing positions they’re just wondering how they’re going to be able to provide the quality of care that they’re used to doing,” she said.

There are 10 nurses working at the Mount Herbert facility and 12 at the Prince County Hospital mental health unit.

O’Shea said how much of an impact the changes have will depend on what the requirements will be for the nurses to supervise allied health professionals.

“The time that it’s going to take to do that versus being able to give hands-on care to patients,” she said.

The changes will take place in March and April.

Although the number of nurses is being reduced, Health P.E.I. is increasing the total number of health-care workers at the facilities by adding 5.7 licensed practical nurse positions and 7.5 resident care and patient care workers.

It works out to a total increase of 1.2 full-time equivalent positions.

Health P.E.I. spokesman Rick Adams said a lot of time was put into the decision to reduce the number of nurses as part of an ongoing review of the province’s model of care.

“The planning has really emanated from right on these patient care units,” he said.

James Aylward, Opposition health critic “The Ghiz government’s claim that mental health and addictions is a priority obviously a complete farce,”

Adams said Health P.E.I. is trying to ensure health-care staff are working to their full scope of practice.

He also said Health P.E.I. wouldn’t be making the changes if it thought the quality of care would suffer.

“We believe this new staffing complement will best meet the needs of our patients and do so in the most effective and efficient manner,” he said.

Adams said changes to Hillsborough Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s psychiatric unit are in the planning phases.

James Aylward, Opposition health critic, is appalled that Health Minister Doug Currie is cutting registered nursing positions.

“The Ghiz government’s claim that mental health and addictions is a priority obviously a complete farce,” said Aylward. “If they were truly committed to battling this epidemic, the health minister wouldn’t be cutting some of the most experienced and well-trained front line positions.”

NDP Leader Mike Redmond says the cuts to the registered nursing positions puts event more Islanders at risk of suicide.

“I was shocked to hear about the cuts to RN positions at the inpatient mental health unit at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside and at the Mount Herbert addictions facility,” said Redmond.

“We now have an Island wide crisis in terms of inadequate services for addictions and mental health problems. Meanwhile, the registered nurses who are being cut have the knowledge and education and critical thinking to do the assessment and care of our most acute mentally ill and addiction clients.”




Organizations: Prince County Hospital, Provincial Addictions Facility, Hillsborough Hospital Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Geographic location: Mount Herbert

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Recent comments

  • patrick venton
    February 04, 2014 - 21:18

    Even if there were a good case for laying off some staff , now is not the time when the entire country has been filled with the needs of PTSD. Your health authority is not with the program. Incidentally PTSD should not be a diagnosis of the military only. Many citizens are in terrible stress too.

  • blah
    February 03, 2014 - 09:59

    It is beyond clear how little this government and health PEI care about Islanders. Outmigration is not being encouraged solely from the federal government, it's coming from the government provincially too. To make this move the day after removing a chunk of supply from the street, as a time when many addicts are desperate, hurting and more likely to commit crime, YOU MADE CUTS TO AN ALREADY DYSFUNCTIONAL, INADEQUATE AND OVERBURDENED P.O.S PROGRAM YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO CALL HEALTH CARE. Shame. On the plus side, it's worked. The pallor of sickness hanging over this Island is causing me to leave.

  • brandy
    February 03, 2014 - 09:49

    Nurses are more interested in protecting jobs and getting everyone excited then trying to make the system better. It makes perfect sense to have nurses -'nurse' and let the licensed practical nurses and resident care workers do other 'work'. Nurses will have all 'kinds' of time to do what they were trained for. Stop wining and lets see how this works out. I

  • Stew
    February 03, 2014 - 09:20

    I wonder if some these administrators get bonuses based on how much money they are saving by making these cuts?'s not unheard of...

  • What next?
    February 03, 2014 - 07:55

    This Government is such a joke. How much more can Islanders take...seriously. I am 50 years old, work full-time and have so all my life. I struggle now financially more than ever. Can't afford to put gas in my car, can't afford to heat my home, can't afford to buy groceries some weeks for my children. More and more of our husbands and children are leaving to work out west because of the economy this government has created. It is far beyond time for a change. People need help! Why can't these high paid government officials see this? We can't take it any more.

  • Tracey Blaisdell
    February 02, 2014 - 20:30

    This government needs to GO!

  • Summerside Resident
    February 02, 2014 - 20:13

    Cutting Nurses and replacing them is the lowest of the lowest. These are well trained, professional people who are good at their work. Why the hidden agenda? If Government want to cut, than cut their own, they are top heavy at all levels. What a waste of money paying twenty some MLA'S all getting fat pay checks and doing very little for the hard working Islanders. Keep reading you will see another phony Al Roach & Gail Shea showing up to give money to a youth organization and smiling at that. Pretty sad. Not for the youth group but to see how these Politicians are.

  • Evelyn Burt
    February 02, 2014 - 19:46

    Health PEI supports having the correct person to give care wherever it is needed. Where will these new level of workers receive the assessment skills to provide this care? It is definitely not part of their basic education. I think this decision needs much closer perusal. THX>

  • Peter
    February 02, 2014 - 19:11

    I think people misunderstand the role that nurses provide in mental health and addictions. Nurses are trained in a medical model...this can be helpful in many ways. However, they do not "treat" mental health and addictions in terms of the provision of psychotherapy. Yes, there are some who have their 6 week certificate in mental health nursing, however, it is the social workers (masters level) and psychologists (PhD level) who actually provide the "treatment" for mental health and addiction disorders. Nurses are great, however, they are not the treatment provider of choice when it comes to mental health and additions. They are a valued member of an inter-disciplinary team. They can assist in monitoring physical health. Do the research. Do you actually see any "nurses" in private practice to provide mental health intervention?

    • AnonymousIslander
      February 03, 2014 - 06:47

      Yes, there are nurses in private practice providing exactly those kinds of interventions, they just don't hang out a shingle the way a psychiatrist or psychologist does. And they don't arrive at that skill set and knowledge base after "six weeks" of mail-order training either. Speaking of doing the research...

  • Chloe
    February 02, 2014 - 18:19

    This model of care does not work in mental health/addictions. Trying to put lesser trained, lower paid, nurse-replacements in this environment might help Health PEI's budget in the short run. However, the job requires a high knowledge of brain chemistry, behavioural analysis all while having a kind and gentle heart and a special type of patience. It's a different environment than the medical wards and needs the years of training that nurses have. There may be a place for LPNs and RCWs but it is not to REPLACE nurses.

    • Kelly
      February 02, 2014 - 19:25


  • AnonymousIslander
    February 02, 2014 - 16:56

    Planning to cut the legs out from under more nurses, nice of you to keep those nurses in the loop. Newsflash Rick: those people are trying to plan their lives. Do they buy the house, the car, or not? Do they turn down the job elsewhere because they want to stay at home on PEI? If you're going to ruin peoples lives can you at least have the guts and decency to tell them up front, instead of hiding the truth until the last minute (as usual).

    • wade
      February 03, 2014 - 09:13

      and they wonder why its hard to keep the nurses, & doctors here on good old p.e.i

  • No thought
    February 02, 2014 - 12:00

    No the only thought here was how to reduce salaries . My thought is that even though addictions on PEI is serious enough for police to charge 40 individuals in ine day . There a problem here . Those are a portion of people that police know about in the drug trade . There people that work in addictions it's not about money it is about experiance that they have years working . And that is a valuable assesst in it's self . . Individuals that have saved a life or turned a life around . This is a mistake model of care for addictions and mental health should not be compromised by making less staffing in these areas . This just shows lack of care in addictions plan a serious problem and huge for the Islands population .