Expert Nursing Panel Report Released: Makes 157 Recommendations to Improve Care at Southlake Regional Health Centre

November 16, 2021

NEWMARKET, ON., November 16, 2021 - An independent panel of nursing experts, called in by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and Southlake Regional Health Centre to review care, professional practice issues and the environment at the hospital’s Medical Assessment Consultation Unit (MACU), has recommended the hospital recruit more registered nurses (RNs). The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) made a total of 157 recommendations to address the concerns of the registered nurses (RNs) related to violence, staffing and workload.

“Our highly educated and skilled RNs have consistently provided written documentation to this employer, outlining the impact of inadequate RN staffing levels on their ability to provide safe, quality care,” says Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Southlake has failed to adequately address these issues. RNs remain very concerned, not only for the safety of their patients, but also about their ability to meet their professional standards due to insufficient RN staffing levels.”

An IAC is called in as a last resort and is an extreme measure to try to settle issues that cannot be resolved between nurses and employers. The IAC expert nursing panel’s recommendations address 12 areas of deep concern related to patient care. It identified the need for a higher ratio of RN staffing to respond to the high acuity and complexity of patients, improvements to nurse-to-patient ratios, increased autonomy and independent decision making of the charge nurse, improvements to staff orientation from new nurses to charge nurses to increase staff integration and retention, and the need to improve the overall quality of the workplace environment. The committee says it is hopeful its recommendations will support the hospital and ONA members to reach mutually agreeable solutions to the workload concerns, in order to improve the quality practice environment in the MACU in a timely and effective way and enhance patient care.

“The panel has released a very strong report which, if implemented by Southlake, will lead to an improved practice environment, reduced RN turnover, improved care for patients, and enhanced staff and patient safety,” says McKenna. “The implementation of increased staffing, independent decision-making by the charge nurse, enhanced orientation and mentorship for new RNs and improved leadership and communication strategies, will create a foundation to move towards full implementation of all the recommendations.”

McKenna adds that, “RNs are very pleased with the recommendations, particularly regarding the need for increased RN resources to support improved patient care and enhance positive patient outcomes. We look forward to working collaboratively with Southlake to implement these excellent recommendations.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics, and industry.

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Sheree Bond