The Ontario Nurses’ Association is sounding the alarm about issues arising at Windsor Regional Hospital because of layoffs.

Registered Nurses say the hospital is in chaos as the June 15 date for cutting 169 RN positions and the likelihood of more RN cuts looms, according to a news release from ONA.

ONA members say that nursing schedules are being posted late and with gaps in schedules where base staffing needs are not being met.

“This is a serious situation,” says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, in a news release. “RNs are working excessive amounts of overtime and the hospital has resorted to bringing back retired registered nurses to backfill empty positions.”

Haslam-Stroud says in some cases, the employer is trying to quietly cut more hours of patient care by deleting more positions by ‘stealth.’ She says this is completely unacceptable for patients.

In an email to CTV News on Monday, CEO David Musyj says it is the “same numbers as announced before.”

“However that does not mean there will not be changes moving forward into eternity, however none right now,” said Musyj.

Musyj says patients and their families should not be worried at either campus.
“The staffing levels are based on staffing levels at similar hospitals across the Province and Canada,” says Musyj.  “Everyone keeps ignoring that was are hiring over 100 RPNs. The staffing mix of RNs to RPNs is identical to what was in place at Ouellette campus for years. Also for any hospital across the Province and Canada.”

Musyj says Met was the only all-RN model in Ontario.

“It had to change,” says Musyj. “The on-going "bashing" of RPN skills and abilities is truly unfortunate and needs to stop. The model being put into place still has one of the highest overall RN compliments across the Province.”

Vicki McKenna, ONA first vice president for professional practice, says RN staff in the emergency department received an email from management earlier in the week.

ONA says the hospital has now informed the union that it is cutting more RNs.

“The nurses were told the hospital budget is in a large deficit due to the provincial funding formula and another three per cent has to be cut this year,” said McKenna. “Day shift staffing in the ER is going to be cut from 12 to 11 RNs, with further cuts possible, negatively impacting the care hours to our vulnerable patients.”

McKenna says that RNs are already overstretched, with patient assignments that are too heavy to enable them to provide quality care.

Windsor Regional Hospital has yet to complete the layoff process for the 169 RNs they announced would be cut last January and the 104 full-time equivalent practical nurses the hospital said it would hire are not yet all in place, according to the union.

Haslam-Stroud said the hospital is rapidly becoming more dangerous for the patients who require quality patient care and encourages residents of Windsor to call their local MPP, Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne to demand better care now.