July 22, 2014 3:46 pm

Patient safety concerns raised after nursing staff reduction at SJ hospital

Steve Fiander/ Global News

SAINT JOHN – Patients with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia say reductions to nursing staff at the Saint John Regional Hospital are putting their health at risk.

The only full-time nurse treating and educating patients at the bleeding clinic was cut back to a part-time position in May. The New Brunswick Hemophilia Society says there are not enough resources to treat the roughly 250 patients needing care.

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The society’s acting president, Bucky Buchanan, injured his elbow a few months ago and was in and out of the hospital for five days due to complications.

He says spontaneous joint bleeds are common in patients with a bleeding disorder.

“For me I have a mild case, so it doesn’t happen that often but for any of the hemophiliacs that are severe it happens a lot. So, preventative medicine is key.”

He says one part time nurse at the bleeding clinic is not enough to offer patients quality care.

“I think it is going to be a disaster myself. Who is going to look after those 250 people on a full-time basis?”

Buchanan adds that patients need help managing costly medications to avoid lengthy hospital stays like he’s had to endure.

“If you can eliminate 90 per cent of those, you are saving taxpayers’ dollars. but more importantly in my mind. you are helping these people lead a better life.”

Buchanan calls it investing in preventative medicine.

But Executive Director of the Saint John Regional Hospital, Brenda Kinney, says the bleeding clinic nurse moved to a part-time position two months ago because while there are about 250 patients on file at the bleeding clinic, the clinic only sees about 100 patients per year.

“We don’t anticipate any impact to patient care. The way this clinic is set up – it is a support system for patients and we have many processes and protocol in place if there are any emergencies with these patients where the emergency room staff and other clinic staff are able to manage those needs.”

But Buchanan isn’t buying it. He recently sent a formal letter to the province’s Health Minister, Ted Flemming, expressing his concerns over the cuts and is waiting for a reply.

“If you think of it in dollars and cents, a couple of emergency room visits is going to pay for her wage. It just boggles my mind. All the pluses and I don’t see a negative to keeping her.”

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