Expert Panel to Examine Patient Safety, RN Staffing Levels at Kingston Health Sciences Centre Mental Health and Addiction Care Program
October 18, 2022
KINGSTON, ON, October 18, 2022 – Citing grave concerns about the failure of Kingston Health Sciences Centre to take action to improve patient and staff safety, registered nurses (RNs) and the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) have taken the rare, last-ditch step of calling in an independent panel of experts to review the hospital’s Mental Health and Addiction Care Program.
“The RNs in this unit have been crying out for action for far too long, as their vulnerable patients remain at risk,” says ONA President Cathryn Hoy, RN. “After repeated attempts to work with the hospital to address nurses’ concerns, ONA has called in what’s referred to as an Independent Assessment Committee, or IAC. This panel of three nursing experts will hear evidence from the RNs on this unit regarding the negative impact that inadequate RN staffing levels are having on their ability to safely care for this complex and very vulnerable patient population.”
The IAC begins today and continues through to this Friday. The panel will then consider the evidence – regarding whether RNs have been assigned more work than is consistent with the provision of proper patient care – and make recommendations.
Hoy says the Kingston RNs have “consistently provided written documentation to their employer, clearly outlining their inability to properly and safely care for their seriously and acutely ill mental health patients. The hospital continues to fail to adequately address the concerns and our dedicated members remain deeply worried – about the health of their patients, and about their ability to meet their professional nursing standards due to the nursing shortage.”
She adds that nursing is a highly regulated profession. “Our members must be able to meet the standards set by their regulatory college,” she notes. “Anything less risks patient safety. These patients need and deserve the best-quality care possible and require specialized nursing care. Too few RNs and an unsafe work environment are impacting the delivery of care and risk serious harm for these patients.”
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.