P.E.I. appears to have a major inefficiency when it comes to filling long-term care beds, says PC Leader James Aylward.
During Wednesday’s question period, Opposition members pressed government to take steps to address those inefficiencies and nursing shortages.
Aylward got the ball rolling by saying it takes a long-term care bed in a private home an average of four days to be filled once it becomes vacant.
He said it takes 11 days, nearly three times as long, for the bed to be filled if it’s in a public facility.
“We have what appears to be a major inefficiency,” said Aylward, who asked Health Minister Robert Mitchell what steps are being taken to address it.
Mitchell said homes are well-staffed and seniors looking to go to long-term beds were offered a choice of whether they would like to go to a public or private facility.
He also used the opportunity to note the province’s plans to open 100 new beds in the next two years.
“This side of the house is very proud of that,” said Mitchell. “We will continue to speed processes up where they need to be speeded up and we will work on that so seniors’ health care needs on Prince Edward Island are being met to our best ability.”
“We’re looking at where best can we provide these full-time positions and where best can you provide part-time positions ... There’s work here, there’s a good life here and we hope (nursing students) remain here in order to fill those positions.”
-Health Minister Robert Mitchell
PC MLA Darlene Compton continued on the health care theme by addressing a shortage of nurses, noting the province is currently advertising for 68 nursing positions.
“You could ask any administrator across this province. (Those vacancies) mean more double shifts. It means denying vacation to those nurses and LPNs and denying educational opportunities and more burnout,” said Compton.
Mitchell said vacancies are being addressed “all the time” and that he had met with a number of nurses during the P.E.I. Nurses Union’s annual general meeting earlier that day.
“They’re a dedicated group of individuals, very passionate about the work they do,” he said, adding that he has also recently met with UPEI nursing students.
“We’re trying to recruit every available nurse to fill positions on P.E.I.”
Compton, however, said most of the vacancies offered are not full-time positions and that the government’s “nursing strategy flags excessive part-time and casual employment as deflating staff morale.
“Your own government strategy urged that you improve the current part-time, full-time ration to 50/50,” she said.
Mitchell said many nursing students are looking to establish a work-life balance, while others want to work full-time. He said the department is also looking to see if any part-time and casual position vacancies can be combined to create full-time jobs.
“We’re looking at where best can we provide these full-time positions and where best can you provide part-time positions,” he said, adding that the province also encourages UPEI nursing students from other provinces to stay on P.E.I.
“There’s work here, there’s a good life here and we hope (nursing students) remain here in order to fill those positions.”