LONDON, Ont. – Expanding the scope of practice for Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) can ease the Emergency Room (ER) crisis at Seaforth Community Hospital, says Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions OCHU/CUPE, which represents 40 workers at Seaforth.
“We have to respond to the shortage of nurses,” Hurley says. “But cutting emergency room (ER) services is not an acceptable way to respond to inadequate resources or staffing.”
Hurley encouraged hospitals to expand the scope of practice of RPNs, graduates of a two-year program, to better serve the public.
“By realigning nursing duties across the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance and using RPNs appropriately, we can address the nursing shortage at Seaforth,” Hurley says.
As of February 7, Seaforth Community Hospital will cut its 24-hour ER down to 12 hours, and remain open only from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Hospital officials say that ambulances will be diverted to other hospitals during the shut-down times.
But Hurley warned that it is the chronic underfunding of the health system underlies ER closures at Seaforth, and elsewhere, and not just the nursing shortage.
“Cutting ER services is a direct response to the financial pressures on the health care system,” Hurley says. “This is yet another example of a rural hospital losing services in a wave of underfunding and restructuring that the McGuinty government is forcing onto hospitals.”
Michael Hurley, President, OCHU/CUPE, cell: 416.884.0770
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell: 613.878.1431