Nurses union not telling whole story in press release over RN reductions
The P.E.I. Nurses Union was somewhat disingenuous with a press release last week criticizing government for cutting five registered nursing positions from mental health and addictions facilities in the province.
At face value, losing RN positions from critical frontline treatment facilities at the Prince County Hospital mental health unit in Summerside and the inpatient unit at the Provincial Addictions Facility in Mount Herbert is cause for concern.
But this isn’t the whole story. Nowhere in the press release is it mentioned that although the number of RNs 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. This works out to a total increase of 1.2 full-time equivalent positions.
When the release was distributed, Opposition parties reacted angrily, as expected. Islanders were aghast to hear that government, which in recent weeks has been under fire for problems with addictions and mental health issues, was cutting positions.
The nurses union has every right to criticize the moves if it feels that replacing RNs for LPNs and care workers won’t improve treatment. But to ignore the fact about extra staffing and then suggest the issue is only about cutting costs is misleading and doesn’t help the health-care debate.
The staffing changes are all part of the ongoing review of the province’s model of care. Health P.E.I. counters that the changes are being made to ensure health-care staff is “working to their full scope of practice.” RNs shouldn’t be changing beds or serving meals so some positions are being moved elsewhere where their training and expertise is best put to use. That makes sense. Does it make sense that Health P.E.I. would make changes if it thought the quality of care would suffer?
The timing of the staff changes, expected to come into play in March or April, is unusual since Dr. Rhonda Matters is conducting a review of mental health and addictions services in P.E.I. and her recommendations may or may not support these staffing changes.
Communications seems to be an ongoing issue within Health P.E.I. and the department. If nurses were consulted on the changes, they are not supporting the moves. If they weren’t, little wonder they are upset. Health P.E.I. should be proactive by being the first to announce the changes and defend them. Now we are left wondering just what to believe.
The little school that could
Souris Consolidated School deserves a big round of applause for winning $135,000 from the Aviva Community Fund to help construct an inclusive playground. The entire population of the school assembled in the gymnasium last week to hear the national winner being named on Canada AM and the reaction was shock and surprise at first, and then an outburst of joy.
It was no small feat for Souris to emerge as the winner over 2,500 entries. It took a lot of work to get the votes cast. The principal said the victory was the work of students, parents, home and school, teachers, staff members, town citizens and friends and family from near and far.
The $135,000 will pay for much of the construction of the new inclusive playground this summer but almost another $50,000 will have to be raised within the community to complete the job.
The idea for an inclusive playground started when students were upset that a classmate who has cerebral palsy couldn’t join them on the school playground. It was a story of caring and community support that obviously swayed many voters.