Expert Nursing Panel agrees with ONA: More registered nurses are required in Special Care Nursery at Guelph General Hospital
May 31, 2021
(Guelph, Ontario): An independent panel of nursing experts has made 31 recommendations to improve care in the Special Care Nursery at Guelph General Hospital, many of which Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members have been raising for several years.
The Independent Assessment Committee (IAC) – which is a last-resort extreme measure to try to settle issues that cannot be resolved between nurses and employers – made recommendations that addressed the following areas of deep concern, among others:
- RN staffing levels.
- Professional practice issues, including practice standards.
- Nursing leadership and governance.
- Unit processes, policies and procedures.
“The IAC Panel concluded and agreed with ONA that the current number of registered nurses assigned over a 24-hour period is not appropriate for very fragile babies,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “The panel’s recommendations address what our nurses know is the primary issue – RN staffing levels – leaving our dedicated RNs unable to provide quality care to meet their professional practice standards and caring for complex babies. It is unfortunate that it took so long to have this investigation take place, leaving our youngest patients at risk.”
The IAC Panel further agreed with ONA that forcing staff to cross-train between two units (Special Care Nursery and Paediatrics) was a great concern. The IAC Panel believes that a supportive cross-training model could be implemented, one that allows RN staff to volunteer to participate in the cross-training program. “I think this is a reasonable suggestion, and one that I hope Guelph General Hospital management takes seriously.”
An IAC is comprised of a panel of three nurse experts chosen to consider concerns from RNs and hospital management and make recommendations to address them. Calling in an IAC is a last resort when nurses and management cannot resolve issues.
“Our hope is that we can work with Guelph General Hospital’s management to implement the IAC’s recommendations without delay,” said McKenna.
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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