The Manitoba Nurses Union is threatening to discourage its members from taking jobs at the Health Sciences Centre over concerns about safety and staffing at Winnipeg’s largest hospital.
Darlene Jackson, president of the MNU, says the union is considering “grey listing” the hospital, a rarely-used tactic where workers are advised against taking jobs at a facility until issues are addressed.
“This is about nurses exercising their professional responsibility and advocating for their patients,” Jackson said Friday, telling 680 CJOB that nurses been telling hospital officials HSC isn’t a safe work environment for months.
“Nurses and other health care workers and patients and their families are entitled to receive health care in a safe facility.”
Jackson said nurses are asking for more staffing, more beds, and more security at the hospital.
She said the problems her union’s members have outlined can be traced back to the province’s massive health care overhaul which started in October 2017.
The restructuring saw the emergency department at the Victoria General Hospital converted to an urgent care center, and the urgent care centre at Misericordia Health Centre closed.
The second phase of the plan saw the closure of the emergency room at Concordia Hospital and the conversion of the ER at Seven Oaks to an urgent care facility.
“It was a plan that was laid in place, it was pushed forward, there was no groundwork in place, the infrastructure wasn’t laid,” said Jackson.
“Our three emergency departments are much busier than they were in the past but we haven’t expanded the capacity to deal with that. Basically, nurses have been asked to clean up the mess of consolidation.”
She also points to a spike in violence at both the hospital and around the building, due to the city’s ongoing meth crisis.
She says the union has been asking the hospital to hire security officers with peace officer status who can intervene during violent incidents.
“We can’t wait another six months or a year to see action,” she said.
Jackson said the union has only grey-listed an employer once, that she knows of. She stresses the union is only considering the move at this point, and hasn’t set a deadline for any action.
“This is very rare — it is not something that the Manitoba Nurses Union takes lightly,” she said.
In a statement to Global News, a Shared Health spokesperson said the changes over the past two years are designed to improve the quality, consistency and efficiency of the care provided.
“Throughout these changes and as we continue to stabilize operations across system, a significant focus over the past several months has been increased and ongoing engagement with nursing staff and their union,” the statement said.
Shared Health said it’s committed to continuing discussions with nurses and their union.
“We look forward to providing more information in the near future about initiatives planned or already underway that will enable our health system to plan resourcing more effectively and support our staff to continue to deliver safe, and quality patient care.”