SUN president prepares to step down

Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president Rosalee Longmoore addresses a crowd at SUN's Annual General Meeting on April 24,2013. Adrian Raaber/Global News

REGINA – After 15 years as the president of Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), Rosalee Longmoore is preparing to step down.

The years in the position have been a rollercoaster and involved some very tough decisions.

Longmoore’s best memory is from 1999. One year into her tenure the nurses went on a 10 day strike.

“It was probably the greatest solidarity I’ve experienced,” she said. “We got messages from all around the world, really, about support for our cause and our efforts.”

Since that time, the relationship between SUN and the government has gotten better. In 2008 nurses received a 35 per cent pay increase over four years, but Longmoore says the real victory was a commitment to reduce nursing shortages. Since then, 1,000 additional nurses have been hired and Longmoore hopes that continues.

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“We’ll have to see what the tightening of budgets, and so on, what the impact is going to be,” she said. “I’d really hate us to start another cycle of only hiring new graduates into casual positions.”

As the province turns towards its patient first initiative, SUN is looking at how it fits into the equation. One of the options could be to allow nurses to prescribe medication.

“Patients really want one stop shop services from their nurse,” said Rebecca Cheatle of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Nursing.

Cheatle spoke to the members of SUN at their Annual General Meeting about how the program was successfully implemented in the UK, saying it is cost effective and frees up doctors time.

“Patient satisfaction scores are extremely high when they’re able to see their specialist nurse who can then go on and prescribe,” Cheatle explained.

Dustin Duncan, Saskatchewan’s health minister, says that is an idea that needs to be discussed.

“That what we’re looking to do with many health care professionals,” he said, “is to look to expand their scope of practice, so we can use everybody to the top of their skill levels.”

Longmoore will no longer lead discussions like that as president of SUN, but she plans to stay engaged to continue improving the profession she loves.

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Tracy Zambory, SUN’s first vice-president, will succeed Longmoore.

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