Orangeville Hospital is asking staff to work extra shifts this weekend due to staffing shortages
An Orangeville, Ont. The hospital has issued an urgent appeal for staff to work extra shifts this weekend due to an expected staff shortage, a union that represents healthcare workers has said.
Headwaters Health Care Center (HHCC), 100 Rolling Hills Dr., has told staff it currently has “urgent staffing needs”, according to SEIU Healthcare, which represents 60,000 workers. The union said the hospital had warned it could redeploy anyone willing to take a shift to departments where they are most needed.
The staffing shortage comes as the hospital in Orangeville, about 80 km northwest of Toronto, faces an increase in the number of patients infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
An email dated Friday from Joanne Alves, the hospital’s human resources manager, to HHCC Central Scheduling urges the department to “broadcast” to everyone, including ward clerks, registered nurses, nurses authorized attendants and personal support workers, that there are shifts available. The union got the email.
The email says the department should ask staff members if they can work Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
“It is important that the employee be informed if they agree to take a shift, that they may be redeployed throughout the hospital,” Alves said in the email.
“Given where we are with an increased influx of patients, we anticipate greater needs over the weekend.”
Hospital is going through a ‘real crisis’, says union leader
Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, said Saturday there is a shortage of nurses in Ontario and the situation in Headwaters is an example of a larger problem. Hospitals are “barely managing” because they don’t have enough staff, she said.
“What we’re hearing from frontline staff is that there’s a real crisis at this hospital and, of course, management is trying to manage this crisis as best they can,” Stewart said.
“They are redeploying workers to various places in the hospital where they are needed, but what worries us today is to hear that unregulated staff are being asked to help the nursing staff. And frontline nurses say they’re concerned about that. “
Housekeeping and dietary staff are being asked to help, but it’s unclear what they’re being asked to do, according to Stewart.
“What is happening in Headwaters is a prime example of the desperation of these hospitals at the leadership of our government,” she added.
Hospital maintains ‘adequate’ staffing, says CEO
Kim Delahunt, the hospital’s president and chief executive, however, said in a post on the hospital’s website on Saturday that the hospital currently has enough staff. In addition, non-nursing staff have not been redeployed to provide nursing care.
Delahunt said 4.8% of the hospital’s 925 staff, doctors and midwives are either on sick leave or at home in self-isolation due to COVID-19 on Saturday.
“Even with these people off work, the hospital has maintained sufficient staffing,” she said in the post.
When the Ontario government issued its directive to hospitals to suspend non-emergency surgeries and procedures on Jan. 5, the hospital redeployed staff to areas of the hospital that needed them the most, it said. she stated.
For example, nursing staff in its outpatient clinics and operating theaters now provide nursing care in inpatient units, while staff who normally work in the medical device reprocessing department have been redeployed to dietary and environmental, she said.
“We also regularly broadcast shift shows to our staff who offer extra shifts if they are able to help us with various needs,” she said.
“Daily staffing meetings with our leaders help plan daily and future needs. Proposed shifts for staff are discussed in advance as much as possible, so they know where they will be working on their next shift. “
Delahunt added: “Overall, our aim is to ensure that our patients receive safe, quality care and that staff are supported.”