NEWMARKET – An independent panel of nursing experts has made 28 significant recommendations to improve patient care at Southlake Regional Health Centre’s Emergency Department, where Registered Nurses (RNs) had been raising professional responsibility concerns for several years.
"The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) accepted the evidence and concerns brought forward by Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members and have made strong recommendations to improve patient care in the province’s third-busiest Emergency Department,” notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. “The recommendations address what our nurses know are insufficient staffing and dangerous nurse-patient ratios that have left our dedicated RNs unable to provide quality care.”
The recommendations relate to eight practice concerns identified by Registered Nurses within the Emergency Department. The practice concerns included insufficient staffing within the Department, the roles and responsibilities of various positions as well as the reliance on and use of agency nurses.
The IAC panel conducted its investigative hearings over three days in September. Both ONA and the employer made presentations to the panel. In its presentation, ONA highlighted the more than 100 workload report forms from the RNs about staffing and practice issues. Once the hearing concluded, the panel wrote a report that outlined the following recommendations, including:
- The need to add at least five permanent full-time RNs to the roster.
- The need to increase RN hours in the Emergency Department.
- The need to move to an all-Psychiatric Emergency Nurses’ model in the Mental Health Wellness area.
- The need to maintain a patient-to-nurse ratio of 5:1 for admitted patients and a 1:1 ratio for critically ill patients during surge.
“Our hope is that we can work with Southlake’s management to implement without delay the IAC’s recommendations,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Hospital management must acknowledge the serious risk to patient care and take action to ensure Emergency Department RNs can provide safe, high-quality patient care to this important patient population.”
ONA is the union representing 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.