Ontario Nurses’ Association Calls on Norfolk Council Board of Health to Maintain Public Health Nurse Positions: Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has left nursing positions vacant
January 27, 2020
HALDIMAND-NORFOLK COUNTY, January 27, 2020 – The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is calling on Norfolk Council and the Board of Health to replace long-vacant nursing positions at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit and ensure community members receive the valued care and services they need and deserve.
ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, notes that two nursing positions have been vacant since last spring, and notes that ONA members are deeply concerned that the positions will be cut during budget deliberations. This, she says, will dilute the vital services the health unit provides and cost the system more in the long run.
“This health unit and the community our nurses serve are going without because the health unit has failed to fill vacant positions,” says McKenna. “While we understand that this is a time filled with uncertainty for public health units, due to changes by the Ford government, it is inconceivable to even consider cutting nurses.
“The health unit’s Nurse Practitioner position is vacant and the work of this nurse is going undone, resulting in patients being referred to walk-in clinics or the emergency department for care,” she says. “This is considerably more expensive for the health-care system. Our nurses are hearing that the failure to replace the NP has meant the health unit has to turn away those who need care and do not have a family doctor. This is unacceptable.”
The Public Health NP provides service and support to strengthen the health of communities and to bridge the gap in health-care services for those who have barriers to accessing them including no family physician.
In addition, there is just one Community Health Public Health Nurse left who is trying to provide services to more than 100,000 community members. "“This is an impossible situation,” notes McKenna. “With this vacancy, smoking cessation supports are limited, and some group counseling sessions have been cancelled. ONA is concerned that some communities are not receiving the services they need. Putting community health strategies and programs on hold is a recipe for disaster.”
ONA is concerned that budget deliberations will include cutting these positions permanently, damaging care to community members who rely on these services. “Public health is the foundation of our health-care system,” says McKenna. The politicians who make these decisions must not sacrifice the health of residents in order to balance the budget.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.