Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit Cuts Last Nurse Practitioner, Leaves Community Without Specialized Care
July 10, 2020
SIMCOE, July 10, 2020 – Community members of Haldimand-Norfolk who rely on the expertise, skills and knowledge of the health unit’s Nurse Practitioner (NP) for specialized services will now have to go without, following the Board of Health’s decision to issue a lay-off notice to its sole NP yesterday.
“The Board of Health has cut public health nurses this year, despite a global pandemic and despite the need for strong public health services,” says Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Vicki McKenna, RN. “If nothing else, this pandemic has shown us the immense value of a strong public health system. In Haldimand-Norfolk, what we continue to see is a board of health that has valued cost savings over its community’s access to services and overall well-being.”
Earlier this year, Haldimand-Norfolk’s Board of Health cut the sexual health program as a cost-savings measure. This saw the loss of three nursing positions, including one NP. The Board offered retirement packages to two nurses; however, the health unit had just one NP on staff. The loss of this NP means the loss of specialized services that come with an NP’s enhanced scope of practice.
Since April 1, 2020, community members who require sexual health services have had no access to them through the health unit, and those with limited or no access to transportation are severely disadvantaged in accessing care. Previously, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s sexual health program was offered in the communities of Dunnville, Simcoe and Caledonia, as nurses traveled to the communities to provide services.
People will now have to travel to the Delhi Family Health Team or the Haldimand Family Health Team, which the health unit says will see patients, even if they do not have a family physician and do not have a health card. Limited sexual health services to high school students will continue to be provided in schools by public health nurses from Haldimand-Norfolk.
“Our nurses are very concerned with continuing high rates of sexually transmitted disease in in the communities of Haldimand and Norfolk,” says McKenna, “and nurses are concerned about the impact this cut will have on rates of infections and unplanned pregnancies. If people cannot access the Delhi Family Health Team or the Haldimand Family Health Team, where do they go? In many cases, these people are without OHIP, have no family doctor, have limited transportation options and few supports, and live in poverty. It’s unfair to cut services to those who need them most.”
McKenna also says it is difficult to reconcile the Board of Health’s decision to cut the Sexual Health Program with the expressed intent and obligation of Council and the Board of Health to support, protect and enrich the lives of residents in Haldimand and Norfolk. “These cuts are reckless, and the negative impacts will be seen in the years to come,” says McKenna.
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.
For more information:
Sheree Bond 416-986-8240; firstname.lastname@example.org