Health-care advocates are warning about the toll this latest variant is putting on an industry already dealing with staffing shortages before the pandemic.
“I hear a lot of frustration amongst health-care workers that have been there for years and have dedicated their life,” says London Health Coalition co-chair Peter Bergmanis.
“We had a staffing problem before the pandemic, and it’s now exacerbated by the pandemic. People are retiring, they want time off, they need time off, and they cant get it.”
Bergmanis said many staff members are not feeling supported, with the fatigue of the last two years setting in.
The CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association told Global News an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of staff are off work right now due to the pandemic.
“We are seeing more waves of staff leaving and staff coming back, so it’s not a big hit all at once, it is more of a rolling impact we are finding more manageable at this time,” Donna Duncan told Global News.
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Duncan noted that changes like vaccines have made things more manageable for staff.
Some homes, Duncan says, have come up with some creative solutions, reaching out to family members of residents to help or to restaurants that are closed right now to see if they can assist in the kitchen.
“We anticipate the majority of homes across Ontario will eventually see outbreaks in their homes just given the nature of Omicron and how quickly it spreads throughout the community,” Duncan says.
To help alleviate the shortage, Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced Tuesday that the province will deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals dealing with staffing shortages.
To help out in both hospitals and long-term care homes, Elliot said international nurses who have applied to practise in Ontario “will have the opportunity to meet their applications requirements by working in health-care settings under the supervision of a regulated health-care provider.”
More than 1,200 applicants are have already applied, and are expected to be matched to facilities in need as soon as possible, Elliott says.