Southlake Board Denies Request from RNs, RRTs to Hear of Risks to Patient Care

July 26, 2021

NEWMARKET, July 26, 2021 – Front-line Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs) – members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) – have been denied a request to present to Southlake Regional Health Centre’s Board of Directors regarding the risks to patients as the hospital moves ahead to implement team-based nursing in its intensive care units (ICUs) and the hiring of RNs without critical care training to the ICU.

The RNs and RRTs had requested to present to the board after being denied a meeting with the CEO twice and having repeatedly trying to work with management to implement solutions to ensure safe patient care. RNs and RRTs have continued to advocate on behalf of their patients of the serious concerns they have with this model of care.

“RNs and RRTs take their regulatory accountabilities as patient advocates seriously,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “These dedicated nurses and RRTs are elevating these patient risks concerning the implementation of the team-based nursing model at Southlake as they believe this will result in serious risks to vulnerable, critically ill patients in the ICU. It will have a devastating impact to the surrounding community.”

An overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of the RNs and RRTs had personally signed a letter asking the Board of Directors to hear their concerns for patient safety and to put an immediate stop to the implementation of the model and the hiring of nurses to work in the ICU who have not received training in critical care nursing. “Team-based nursing in the ICU is an unproven approach, which will not solve Southlake’s chronic understaffing issues,” explains McKenna. “Southlake will continue to have a shortage of highly specialized, skilled and expert nurses in the ICU and, in fact, make the short-staffing there much worse if current staff decide to leave.”

McKenna notes the province only intended team-based nursing to be used as a temporary measure to deal with the patient surge during the pandemic and that other hospitals are not pursing this unsafe and risky model of care in critical care units. “Not providing RNs with the proper critical care training is simply dangerous for patients,” she says. “Our members have offered solutions to address the staff shortage in the ICU. With the refusal of the board of directors to learn more, several RNs are looking to practice elsewhere, out of concern for their patients.”

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 facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

For more information: 

Katherine Russo 647-539-1925