Registered nurse staffing must improve at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, expert panel urges

May 12, 2023

May 12, 2023 (Collingwood, ON) – More than 130 recommendations must be implemented at the emergency department at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital (CGMH) to help improve patient care, retain nurses and improve working conditions, concludes an independent nursing expert panel.

Although members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) had been raising serious concerns about untenable working conditions in the emergency department for years, an Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) – a last resort step taken by ONA – was called in to address issues that could not be resolved between nurses and CGMH.

“The expert panel’s report confirms what ONA members know: the employer must overhaul their efforts to improve nurse staffing. Recruitment strategies will do nothing to improve staffing gaps without immediate action to retain the nurses they already have,” notes ONA President Erin Ariss, RN. “Being short-staffed has left emergency department nurses in an ethical challenge to choose between the good quality care their patients need and deserve, and the bare minimum resources they have to keep patients safe.”

The IAC Report contains recommendations that address staffing, leadership and communication, healthy work environment, recruitment and retention, professional development, and more.

“Our members submitted more than 220 professional responsibility workload forms sounding the alarm on many issues. We are deeply concerned about increased patient volumes and acuity and the provision of safe patient care. Nurses spoke to their manager, director and interim Chief Nursing Executive, but no concrete action resulted. We were left with no choice but to call an expert panel, which validated these concerns,” says Ariss.

“The employer has indicated an interest in working with ONA to implement the recommendations and create a quality practice environment for RN staff and the patients they care for,” says Ariss. “Our hope is that this report will catalyze the essential change and action required by the employer’s senior leadership and management team to implement the IAC’s recommendations without delay.”

ONA is the union representing 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.


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Katherine Russo