WINNIPEG — Personal care homes dealing with staffing shortages amid the pandemic are getting reinforcements, but some say it’s come at a cost to other facilities.
CTV News has learned a nurse practitioner recently reassigned to Parkview Place had to stop caring for residents at three other Winnipeg care homes.
Health officials said there are backup plans to make sure residents continue receiving care when workers are reassigned, but some are questioning the effectiveness of those plans.
“They’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” a personal care home worker, who works at one of the three affected care homes told CTV News.
CTV News has agreed not to identify the worker because they fear speaking out could impact their job.
The worker said the nurse practitioner who regularly cared for patients at the three care homes was recently reassigned to Parkview Place, where’s there’s been a significant outbreak of COVID-19.
It’s a move the worker said left the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre, Southeast Personal Care Home and River Park Gardens Personal Care Home without their regular nurse practitioner.
“The remaining balance of the nurse practitioner’s practice at those facilities had to be reabsorbed with the physicians that are currently in place,” the worker said.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) didn’t dispute the worker’s account of the situation. The WRHA oversees long-term care homes in the city and said it’s working to ensure all personal care home sites have adequate staffing at all times.
“That has in a few instances, seen staff move from their regularly assigned facilities to support those with higher staffing needs,” a WRHA spokesperson said. “Those staffing moves are being done deliberately and with backup plans put in place to ensure safe and quality care for residents is maintained.”
The Manitoba Nurses’ Union said with high nursing vacancies heading into the pandemic, there’s little wiggle room to backfill when health care workers are reassigned.
“In the end, it leaves someone short,” said MNU President Darlene Jackson.
Jackson said a dedicated nurse practitioner in a personal care home can drastically improve the quality of life and care for residents.
“We do have medical care, we have the nursing staff providing some care, we have physicians but it’s not the same continuity of care, not the same relationship that those residents had with the nurse practitioner,” said Jackson.
The worker said concerns were raised internally but so far nothing has changed so they chose to speak out.
“I think the backup plan is always good on paper but basically what you’re doing is just redistributing the workload to an already exhausted staff who’s been working tirelessly since March, short-staffed,” the worker said.
Jackson said the Manitoba government needs to undertake an aggressive recruitment and retention plan to bring more nurses into the system.
Asked Friday what the government’s doing to make sure healthcare workers are available in facilities dealing with staffing shortages, Health Minister Cameron Friesen reiterated reassignments aren’t permanent and stressed a system-wide response is needed.
“Now is not the time for silos. This is not conventional delivery of health care,” Friesen said Friday. “It’s not forever. It’s for a short time but we have got to make sure we’re putting our health care resources where they needed most.”
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