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Peace Arch Hospital nursing cutbacks not about money: Fraser Health

Fraser Health plans to eliminate eight registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses from Peace Arch Hospital
Fraser Health plans to eliminate eight registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses from Peace Arch Hospital's Weatherby and Dr. Al Hogg pavilions.
— image credit: File photo

A move to eliminate eight nurse positions from residential-care facilities at Peace Arch Hospital is not about saving money, health officials said.

Responding to concerns expressed by the B.C. Nurses Union this week, Fraser Health spokesman Roy Thorpe-Dorward said changes underway region-wide are affecting the staffing mix at Fraser Health-owned facilities – not the staffing budget.

"This is not a cost-savings change," Thorpe-Dorward said.

In a statement issued Wednesday (Oct. 26), BCNU president Debra McPherson describes a plan to eliminate eight registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses from PAH's Weatherby and Dr. Al Hogg pavilions as an "ill-advised" cost-savings decision that will affect the care of senior residents. It will also take support away from licensed practical nurses working in the facilities, McPherson claims.

While Thorpe-Dorward confirmed the positions will be gone as of January, he disputed that it will take care away from residents. The change will actually increase the amount of one-on-one care residents at the two facilities receive, from 2.73 hours per resident per day, to three hours, he said.

Thorpe-Dorward noted that 16 RN positions will remain between the two buildings. In addition, the number of licensed practical nurses will grow by 13; and additional care aides are being hired, he said.

While McPherson conceded that hiring more LPNs is a positive, she said it "makes no sense" to take away the clinical support.

"Effective healthcare delivery depends on teamwork, with RNs/RPNs, LPNs and other healthcare professionals working together," she stated.

Thorpe-Dorward said the changes are part of a new care-delivery model that Fraser Health began implementing in June 2010. He noted that since then, funding for residential care in the region has increased by $24 million.

Peace Arch Hospital is the last site to transition; planning for the move began last month.

Displaced nurses have been offered early retirement, education or orientation for different opportunities. A transition strategy is in the works to find placements at other Fraser Health sites for those who want it, Thorpe-Dorward added.

 

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