St. Mary’s General Hospital Emergency Department Registered Nurses Call for an Independent Review of Staffing Levels, Patient Safety

June 1, 2021

KITCHENER, ON., June 1, 2021 – Registered nurses (RNs) concerned about unsafe RN staffing levels and patient access to safe and timely care at the Emergency Department of St. Mary’s General Hospital have called for an independent review of staffing levels.

The RNs – members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) – will provide evidence to an Independent Assessment Committee (IAC), a panel of three nursing experts, on the negative impact inadequate RN staffing levels are having on patient care.

“This hearing, which begins today, will look at serious issues in this emergency department,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “This hospital emergency department has a consistent, very large turnover of staff – 75 per cent of full-time RNs and 55 per cent of part-time RNs have left the department between January 2019 and May 2021. This is a clear indication that changes are required, and we hope to achieve this through the IAC process.”

McKenna notes the RNs have filed more than 200 professional responsibility workload forms in the past three years, have seen several leadership changes and have worked short-staffed – creating a very unhealthy work environment and challenges to providing quality patient care.

“ONA RNs have documented missed and/or delayed patient care, and a lack of RNs to support other staff and new nurses working in the emergency department,” says McKenna. “Patients visiting this emergency department are arriving increasingly ill and suffering from complex care needs. Despite written documentation of the problems, this employer has failed to adequately address the issues. Calling in the Independent Assessment Committee is the most serious step we could take. We do so only as a last resort.”

An IAC is a panel of three registered nursing experts that address the professional responsibility and workload issues of registered nurses. The panel will assess the evidence and determine whether nurses are being assigned more work than is consistent with the provision of proper patient care and makes recommendations to address these concerns.

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)