Special Care Nursery RNs at Guelph General Hospital Call for an Independent Review of Patient Safety and Staffing Levels

April 27, 2021

GUELPH, ON., April 27, 2021 – Registered Nurses (RNs) providing care to fragile and ill newborns at Guelph General Hospital’s (GGH) Special Care Nursery are deeply concerned about unsafe RN staffing levels and patient safety and have called an Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) to review the issues.

The nurses – members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) – will provide evidence to a panel of three nursing experts on the negative impact that inadequate RN staffing levels are having on patient care. The hearing, which begins today, “is about ensuring that the infants in the Special Care Nursery at GGH receive the quality of nursing care they need and deserve, especially in these precarious times,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “These fragile infants have increased acuity and complex care needs. Coupled with the lack of adequate RN staffing levels, we believe there is a generally unhealthy work environment. The issues have been escalating for more than two years, without adequate solutions or regard for the nurses and staff, as well as the patients and their families,” she says.

“Our dedicated, highly educated and skilled RNs have consistently provided written documentation to their employer outlining why inadequate RN staffing levels have impacted their ability to properly and safely care for seriously and critically ill newborns,” notes McKenna. “Yet Guelph General Hospital has failed to adequately address the concerns of our members, and the RNs remain concerned, not only for the health of their patients, but about meeting their professional standards because of insufficient RN staffing levels.”

Nursing is a highly regulated profession and RNs must be able to meet the standards set for them by their regulatory college. “Anything less risks patient safety and the RNs’ license to practice,” says McKenna.

An IAC is a panel of three registered nursing experts who address the professional responsibility and workload issues of RNs. A hearing is called as a last resort – when nurses and management have been unable to settle workload concerns internally. The panel assesses evidence and determines whether nurses are being assigned more work than is consistent with the provision of proper patient care. It then makes recommendations to address these concerns. The fact that the concerns raised by the registered nurses for their tiny patients and their families in Guelph are being taken before an IAC during a pandemic speaks to the seriousness of the issues.

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.


For more information: 

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240 (cell) shereeb@ona.org