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.