Manitoba Daily

Friday, January 28, 2022

Nurse vacancies in northern Manitoba are ‘desperate for help’

Key takeaways:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, long-standing and severe nursing shortages in northern Manitoba are projected to intensify.
  • Chief Morris Beardy of the Fox Lake Cree Nation supports the union’s concerns concerning patient care and nurse mental health.

According to officials in several towns, long-standing and severe nursing shortages in northern Manitoba are expected to worsen during the COVID-19 epidemic, and the Manitoba nurses’ union has issued an urgent request for assistance.

The Manitoba Nurses Union issued an “S.O.S. from the north” statement on social media last week.

“We’re drowning,” read a tweet sent out on Friday.

“Lynn Lake, Gilliam, and Snow Lake are in serious need of assistance… If nurses cannot cover these shifts, people are left in a vulnerable situation with no access to health care.”

Also read: On Tuesday, Manitoba reported 128 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths

According to the health authority, there were 109 available nursing positions in the Northern Health Region as of Nov. 1, a vacancy rate of 25.2%.

According to papers obtained by the Opposition N.D.P., the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority recorded a 17.3 percent vacancy rate for nurses in October, while the rate in the Southern Health Region was 21.2 percent at the end of September.

Chief Morris Beardy of the Fox Lake Cree Nation supports the union’s concerns concerning patient care and nurse mental health. The local hospital in Gillam is used by residents from his hamlet, located roughly 700 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg.

According to the Northern Health Region data, seven of the 13 registered nursing positions at the facility were unfilled as of Nov. 1, a vacancy rate of 54%.

“Not only has the Gillam hospital been dealing with substantial personnel shortages for months, but vacancies and burnout are also an issue right now,” Beardy told C.B.C. News.

He claims that nurses are overworked because they are required to take on other jobs and their nursing responsibilities.

“The cleaning staff should do cleaning, the nurses should do nursing, and the cooks should do cooking. But, you know, it seems like once you’re in there, they make you do things that aren’t your responsibility.”

Nursing openings in northern Manitoba are at an all-time high

Officials say it’s difficult to attract nurses to Lynn Lake.

Lynn Lake and its nearby communities in northwestern Manitoba are experiencing similar issues.

According to the health region, seven out of nine nursing posts at the Lynn Lake hospital are unfilled, resulting in a vacancy rate of 78 percent.

The mayor and town council are concerned that there are insufficient incentives for nurses to work in Lynn Lake, especially given the abundance of nursing employment across the province.

“COVID really placed a strain on all of these hospitals… and now even the south is looking at hiring agency nurses to fill up the gaps,” Jim Shortt, the mayor of the hamlet of 600 people, said.

“So why would our agency nurses want to move up north when they could stay in the same position down south?”

Although everyone who works in the north receives a raise, Lynn Lake Coun, Vicki Phillips argues that the incentive isn’t distributed fairly.

“Whether they work in Flin Flon, The Pas, Thompson, or Lynn Lake, they all earn the same bonus. Why would a nurse want to move here when the services and amenities available in Thompson and Flin Flon are vastly different from those available in Lynn Lake?” she stated.

Given the 109 openings, Shortt believes the provincial government’s recent announcement of 20 new nurses trained in the north is insufficient.

He remarked, “I’m sorry, but Thompson is going to devour that in no time.” “We require more.”

According to the Northern Health Region, Thompson has more than 50 open nurse positions, a vacancy rate of 49%.

When asked how the province plans to fill nursing shortages in the north, a Manitoba Health spokesman noted the province had created 400 new nursing education seats and assists more than 1,800 internationally trained nurses who want to work in Manitoba.

According to the spokesperson, the province has also introduced new nursing posts to intensive care units in Brandon and Winnipeg and enabled third- and fourth-year nursing students to gain experience in surgical, medical, and mental health units.

Source: CBC News

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