Staff shortage has HSC emergency department calling for nurses

The emergency department at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) is facing a staffing crunch over the next couple of days.

“This is a big issue and it’s seems to be escalating and getting worse all the time,” said MNU President Darlene Jackson.

Shared Health tells CTV News the ER department at HSC is projecting what it calls “staffing challenges” this weekend.

The Manitoba Nurses Union says the baseline for nurses in the emergency department at HSC is 24. President Darlene Jackson says the facility may be down to only eight nurses available for Friday night, two thirds below that base level.

“I think that the staff tonight are going to work very hard, probably with no breaks, and I believe the wait times are going to be very, very long tonight,” said Jackson.

There is also a concern that many beds will be unavailable with that many nursing vacancies.

Shared Health did not provide numbers of how many beds may be unavailable or how many nurses the department may be short. But in a statement it did say the hospital is putting out a call for full and part-time nurses to fill shifts, asking those already working to do overtime, and reassigning critical care nurses to the emergency department.

“These efforts to fill shifts will continue throughout the weekend. However, we do anticipate there will be some impact to patient flow as well as longer wait times for lower-acuity patients. The public should be assured that the sickest and most injured patients continue to be prioritized upon arrival in our ED to ensure they get the care they need with zero to minimal wait.”

Shared Health also says these nurse vacancies mirror national trends and says the staffing issues are more of a problem this summer on weekends, particularly in the evenings and overnight.

The Manitoba Nurses Union says more nurses are leaving the public sector and going to private agencies for better pay and hours.

Shared Health says a number of initiatives are underway to recruit and retain nurses, including financial incentives.

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