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WINNIPEG CBC radio and television news coverage of hospital induced illnesses is timely and appropriate, according to representatives of CUPE, the union representing over 10,000 of Manitobas health care support workers.

While the union does not want to create a sense of crisis and danger, they say it is important for the public to be aware of the risks and to know what hospital personnel are doing to protect them.

We need to point out that there are problems in the hospitals but support staff are taking precautions and doing what they can to protect the public. The basic problem is with inconsistent policies and limited funding, said Brian Ellis, CUPE health care coordinator.

For example, the problem of hospital-induced infections can be partially traced back to:

  • Insufficient numbers of support staff in hospitals. Budget lines for support staff are often the first to be cut in tough times and have not been replenished as quickly as for other personnel. Many workers are part-time. Most are over-worked.
  • Inconsistent system-wide preparation and training. A consistent and comprehensive plan should be in place for all facilities where all staff are involved and prepared. This simply does not exist today.

Where the administration and government are committed to fully funded and supported public delivery of health care services, the risks of hospital induced infections are reduced. Our members know the situation and want to protect their patients, they just need the policy and funding support to do so, said Ellis.

CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, represents 10,800 health care support workers in more than 80 facilities across Manitoba, including the Regional Health Authorities covering Central Manitoba, Interlake, Parkland, Assiniboine and Brandon. In Winnipeg, facilities include the Health Sciences Centre, Grace, Seven Oaks and Concordia Hospitals, CancerCare Manitoba, Riverview Health Centre, Community Health Clinics and Personal Care Homes. CUPE members are health care aides, dietary technicians, housekeeping and service partners, laundry staff and laboratory assistants.

For more information, contact:
Marlene Tartsch, Chair, Provincial Health Care Council 942-0343, ext. 290
Brian Ellis, CUPE Health Care Coordinator 942-0343, ext. 214