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CORNER BROOK Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are greatly disturbed by comments made by nurses at the Western Regional Memorial Hospital that indicate LPNs have no place in emergency care.

We are very upset that nurses would give the impression that peoples health could be in jeopardy if LPNs are allowed to work side by side with emergency room nurses, says Donna Ryan, a health care employee and president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 488. LPNs are fully trained and qualified to work in all areas of the hospital.

Ryan says it is wrong to assume that every case that walks through the emergency doors is life threatening.

What about people who are admitted with flu, or for dressing changes? she asks. A lot of so-called emergencies can be easily handled by LPNs, freeing up RNs to deal with the more serious cases.

Ryan says it was only 12 years ago that LPNs were replaced by RNs in the hospitals emergency room, and that this was an administrative decision that may not have been in the best interest of the hospital.

LPNs have been underutilized for too long, she says. Its time to let them start doing the work they have been trained to do.

Ryan says the LPNs are disheartened that nurses have been forced by cutbacks to take such desperate measures as attacking another professional group.

Were all in this together, says Ryan. We should all be working on the same front to increase funding for the region, instead of fighting amongst ourselves.

CUPE Local 488 represents LPNs, ambulance attendants, trades people and other hospital support staff in the Western Region.

For more information please contact Donna Ryan at 634-4259 (home) or 637-5000 ext. 5517 (work).