There is frustration at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) which manages both the Huntsville and Bracebridge hospitals. Nurses are feeling overworked and their caseload is increasing, says one nurse who asked that she not be identified for fear of being reprimanded.
“They have increased our workloads which is challenging, especially with sick calls,” said the nurse. “We do workload grievances which goes to management and the union but have not seen progress from that. Many unfortunately are too tired or fed up to do them as it is complicated and time-consuming. It’s easier to consider an exit plan instead.”
The nurse explained that for many, finding a work/life balance is becoming increasingly difficult at the hospital due to scheduling and what she described as a poor work atmosphere that is top-heavy.
Likewise, a letter from a physician was circulated hospital-wide and shared with this publication. The letter describes an environment of disrespect and frustration between hospital administrators, staff, and physicians. The doctor also expresses concern for patient outcomes, particularly when a patient has to be transferred elsewhere due to staff shortages.
MAHC has indicated it is moving to a new patient care model in some of its units which it says will help address nursing shortages.
According to Melissa Bilodeau, MAHC Director of Nursing, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive, the new model is aimed at delivering “a more patient-centered approach to care.”
“Within the Emergency Departments and inpatient units, we have been working to implement this team-based approach to patient care where providers are able to work at the top of their scope of practice, using the skillset of the right team member at the right time for nursing duties, and for supportive/personal care and non-nursing duties such as stocking and portering,” she noted via email correspondence, adding that moving to the new model involves the recruitment of PSWs (Personal Support Workers) and Unit Aides to support patient care and “broaden the makeup of the care team beyond nursing to ensure all of our staff can spend as much time as possible with patients.”
Bilodeau added that the interdisciplinary care model also aligns with the new scope of practice for nursing released by the College of Nurses of Ontario on July 1, 2023.
“We developed this care model as an innovative solution to better meet the needs of patients amidst continued healthcare workforce shortages province-wide, including challenges to fill nursing vacancies in Muskoka. We continue working with our staff and listening to their feedback to continuously evaluate and adjust care models to enhance care and proactively respond to the current workforce climate.”
When asked what safeguards are in place to ensure there is consistency of care if the care involves more people, Bilodeau indicated that “consistency of care is enhanced through this integrated care model where providers in the patient’s circle of care work collaboratively together with multiple communication touchpoints throughout the patient’s admission.”
The new care model is being phased in over the next couple of months in various units across both MAHC sites as the necessary positions are filled, said Bilodeau.
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