QEH emergency room closes door on licensed practical nurses

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on January 21, 2016

Queen Elizabeth Hospital's emergency department.

©Guardian file photo

Only registered nurses will staff Queen Elizabeth Hospital emergency department starting this April

Staffing changes are underway in the emergency department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

It is part of a move in health care all across P.E.I. that began with a report in 2009, a process known as the collaborative model of care.

Hospital management met Thursday with staff of the emergency department to announce that licensed practical nurses will no longer be part of that unit as of April.

It amounts to about eight full-time positions, but the exact number of staff varies, since not every position is filled by just one person, The Guardian was told.

"The hospital is going with an all-RN model for the emergency department," said Karen Jackson, president of the P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees, which represents LPNs employed by Health P.E.I.

Jackson and Health P.E.I. both told The Guardian that the LPNs will transfer to jobs in other parts of the hospital.

She did say, however, that the union is disappointed by the move.

"I feel that the LPNs are a valuable resource in that area," she said. "They are competent and skilled professionals."

For its part, the P.E.I. Nurses' Union applauds the move.

"In the emergency department, you have a very critically ill and unpredictable patient population, and nurses need to have excellent assessment skills, critical thinking skills and to be very knowledgable," said Mona O'Shea, president of the nurses' union.

She said patients will get good care as the changes take place and more registered nurses are added to emergency department staffing.

The Health P.E.I. website makes note of staff increases resulting from this process since it began in 2010.

"As of summer 2015, more than 75 full-time equivalent positions have been added throughout the province as a direct result of the collaborative model of care, which has led to an increase of more than 150,000 patient care hours," says Health P.E.I.