Veteran nurse shares why some are leaving patient care – CTV News

Behind the story of emergency room closures across the country are the workers impacted, like "Sue," a 25-year veteran nurse in Ontario who openly weeps about her decision to leave front-line medical care.
The 52-year-old, who has been independently verified to have been a nurse by CTVNews.ca but asked to protect her identity, said she loved her job caring for patients, having worked as an operating room nurse, in surgical care wards, and in rehab and palliative care.
But since February, she has been off work on stress leave and is seeing a psychologist after suffering burnout.
Following two intense years working during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sue said both she and colleagues have faced "bullying" by administrators, who she claims force them into caring for too many patients than would be considered safe. Others, she claims, are ordered to do mandatory overtime to fill in for staff shortages, due to illness, exhaustion or because colleagues were quitting.
"When I think about nursing now… I get the shakes," she said. "There was always a hint of ‘don’t you dare call in sick,’ ‘don’t you dare miss work,’ or ‘we know you’re stressed but Ontario needs you.’”
Sue has decided to retire early and said she knows of several other experienced nurses who have left to work in long-term care, public health nursing or with nursing agencies where they can pick their own working hours and assignments, lowering their stress. Two others who are planning their exit are waiting to notify managers, she added.
"Anyone I talked to has either left, retired, or is seeing a psychiatrist or counselor and on antidepressants… How sad is that?” she said.
EMERGENCY CARE ‘STRETCHED’ AND ‘UNSAFE’
This weekend, several hospitals across Canada — particularly in rural communities — are announcing temporary closures to emergency units and other medical services because of shortages of nurses and doctors.
Glengarry Memorial Hospital, in Alexandria, Ont. is closing its ER overnight Saturday and Sunday, while Kamsack Hospital in Kamsack, Sask. is closing hospital bed and reducing emergency hours because there aren’t enough nurses to staff them.
One hospital in Perth, Ont. has seen its ER closed since July 2.
Deb Lefebvre, a registered nurse who lives in Kingston Ont., but who works outside the area in another community, described emergency care in Canada as “unsafe.”
"They’re stretched and they themselves have become unsafe areas for patients to attend too," she said. “We leave the hospitals… feeling that patient care has been compromised.”
Another nurse, independently verified by CTVNews.ca, who asked not to be identified, added: “The staff to patient ratio is also not safe and many nurses are leaving now knowing that patients are not given safe care. Call bells left for hours, patients soiling themselves because there is no one to take them to the bathroom, patients dying in waiting rooms. Hospitals in Canada are not safe.”
On Friday, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs replaced his health minister and the CEO of the Horizon Health Network after a patient died this week in an emergency department waiting room in Fredericton. A review process has begun into the death.
The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians also warned in a statement earlier this month that “it has never been more important to pay attention to the current state of emergency departments,” adding that these facilities are “a window on the health of health care.”
Lefebvre said the difficult decision to close services is a huge red flag. There aren’t enough people to do the job safely, she claims. Her advice to Canadians heading to emergency in the coming weeks is to have a friend or relative accompany them to make sure they get seen if their condition suddenly worsens.
In an email statement to CTVNews.ca on Friday, Paul-Émile Cloutier, president and CEO of HealthCareCAN admitted that the last two-and-a-half years have stripped Canada’s health system bare.
“Throughout the pandemic, health-care workers have worked – and continue to work – hard to provide the very best care they can under tremendously challenging circumstances, but what we’re now seeing is a health workforce that is no longer able to cover the cracks of a system that wasn’t built to handle this constant and mounting pressure,” he said. “Patient outcomes and the health workforce shortages will not improve if we simply continue pouring more money into a broken system. It must be re-envisioned to effectively address the changing needs of an aging population and the growing demand for health-care services.”
The called on all levels of government to take immediate and concrete action now to “bolster the health system for tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Howlett, president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, sympathized with emergency nurses, saying they are carrying a very heavy load.
“They become demoralized, burned out and then leave the department to work elsewhere. With fewer and fewer emergency nurses and physicians across the country we are having a difficult time keeping up with all of the care needs, and we are extremely worried about potential delays to care,” he told CTVNews.ca in an emailed statement on Friday.
SITUATION COULD GET WORSE
A survey in late 2021 by Statistics Canada said one in four nurses plan to quit due to job stress or concerns about mental health in the next three years.
With a summer wave of COVID-19 underway,departures from the front line may intensify, according to Linda Silas, head of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union.
"What we’re hearing from our provincial nurses unions is that every day they get a call from nurses wanting to either change their status, going from full-time to part-time, or part-time to casual, so reducing their hours dramatically or completely leaving by retiring early," said Silas.
Bonuses offered by some provinces like Ontario and Quebec have not worked to stem the tide, she claims. "They all fall flat on their face, because they’re a flash in the pan," she said.
The underlying issues, claims Silas, are quality of life, and how nurses say they are being treated, as many are mandated to work overtime or denied vacations. Retention of these veteran, experienced nurses is the first step to "stopping the bleed" and keeping front line health care safe, they added.
"Employers have to work with nurses to see what they need to stay?” she said. “For some, it’s as simple as ‘I cannot be mandated to do overtime.’ ‘I have a family.’ ‘So you guarantee me that then I will stay,’" added Silas.
A NATIONAL SOLUTION?
The premiers who met in Victoria earlier this week demanded Prime Minister Justin Trudeau call a first ministers meeting to hammer out a health-care funding deal.
Nursing groups are also calling on the federal government to develop a national plan to address the nursing shortage, including a plan for how many nurses will be needed for the coming decades.
Track COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and wastewater numbers across Canada
How do Canadian provinces and territories compare to American states?
Curious how different countries are faring? Chart and compare the curves using our interactive graphs
Sign up to receive the most important updates in your inbox two times a week
About 4,000 beagles are looking for homes after animal rescue organizations started removing them from a Virginia facility that bred them to be sold to laboratories for drug experiments.

Anne Heche, the Emmy-winning film and television actor whose dramatic Hollywood rise in the 1990s and accomplished career contrasted with personal chapters of turmoil, died of injuries from a fiery car crash. She was 53.

A sport utility vehicle crashed into a North Carolina fast-food restaurant on Sunday, killing two sibling customers, police said.

FBI testing of the gun used in the fatal shooting on the movie set of 'Rust' found that the weapon handled by actor Alec Baldwin could not be fired without pulling the trigger while the gun was cocked, according to a newly released forensics report.

Pennsylvania state police say a man who was upset about an argument with his mother drove through a crowd at a fundraiser for victims of a recent deadly house fire, killing one person at the event and injuring 17 others, then returned home and beat his mother to death.

A new study is offering a dire prediction for the U.S. state of California, where scientists say catastrophic flooding could become twice as likely in the future due to the effects of climate change.

A recent study on rodents has found testosterone, despite being commonly associated with aggression, can also foster friendly behaviours in males.

Republicans stepped up calls on Sunday for the release of an FBI affidavit showing the underlying justification for its seizure of documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

Authorities in Norway said Sunday they have euthanized a walrus that had drawn crowds of spectators in the Oslo Fjord after concluding that it posed a risk to humans.

After Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked during a writing conference in western New York on Friday, current and former Canadian politicians are weighing in on what such attacks mean for freedom of expression and thought.

The Senegalese Embassy in Ottawa is contradicting Quebec's rental board ruling against one of their diplomats arrested and allegedly beaten by the provincial police.

The recent successful rescue of two miners trapped in a mine in the Dominican Republic for more than a week was made possible thanks to support from the international community including direct assistance from the Royal Canadian Air Force, according to the president of the company at the centre of the incident.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemned a controversial prize-winning essay that's been criticized for being sexist and racist during his provincewide radio call-in program, but also appeared to downplay the controversy it generated.

Canadian writers, publishers and literary figures doubled down on the right to freedom of thought and expression on Saturday, one day after an attack on award-winning author Salman Rushdie that left him hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Two people from Ottawa were killed when their small plane crashed in Port Hope, Ont. this weekend.

A sport utility vehicle crashed into a North Carolina fast-food restaurant on Sunday, killing two sibling customers, police said.

About 4,000 beagles are looking for homes after animal rescue organizations started removing them from a Virginia facility that bred them to be sold to laboratories for drug experiments.

Pennsylvania state police say a man who was upset about an argument with his mother drove through a crowd at a fundraiser for victims of a recent deadly house fire, killing one person at the event and injuring 17 others, then returned home and beat his mother to death.

Republicans stepped up calls on Sunday for the release of an FBI affidavit showing the underlying justification for its seizure of documents at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

On the eve of the anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan's former president on Sunday defended what he said was a split-second decision to flee, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrender to the insurgents.

After Indian-born British novelist Salman Rushdie was attacked during a writing conference in western New York on Friday, current and former Canadian politicians are weighing in on what such attacks mean for freedom of expression and thought.

The German government on Friday issued a statement confirming the agreement will be signed Aug. 23 in Stephenville, where a Newfoundland based company plans to build a zero-emission plant that will use wind energy to produce hydrogen for export.

Senior civil servants explored offering Indigenous-language training to federal employees and possible exemptions to those who already speak one from requiring fluency in both English and French, newly released documents show.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will accompany the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, on a brief Canadian visit later this month that will include stops in Montréal, Toronto and Stephenville in western Newfoundland, his office announced on Saturday.

Canadian Blood Services says it is in talks with companies that pay donors for plasma as it faces a decrease in collections.

Kristen Hayes lives close to the hospital in Yarmouth, N.S., but she says that twice in the past month, her son, who has a rare form of epilepsy, has been taken by ambulance to the emergency room there, only to be left waiting.

More Canadians are ending their lives with a medically-assisted death, says the third federal annual report on medical assistance in dying (MAID). Data shows that 10,064 people died in 2021 with medical aid, an increase of 32 per cent over 2020.

A recent study on rodents has found testosterone, despite being commonly associated with aggression, can also foster friendly behaviours in males.

Volunteers armed with smartphones are using a 3D-modelling app to preserve Ukraine's cultural heritage one snap at a time.

Last month was the Earth’s sixth-warmest July on record in 143 years, according to the U.S. federal agency that studies oceans, the atmosphere, and coastal areas.

Anne Heche, the Emmy-winning film and television actor whose dramatic Hollywood rise in the 1990s and accomplished career contrasted with personal chapters of turmoil, died of injuries from a fiery car crash. She was 53.

A B.C. girl is making her voice acting debut in a new animated Netflix series, saying she's excited that they chose her to bring the spunky, South Asian lead to life.

FBI testing of the gun used in the fatal shooting on the movie set of 'Rust' found that the weapon handled by actor Alec Baldwin could not be fired without pulling the trigger while the gun was cocked, according to a newly released forensics report.

Veteran stock market investor and Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, nicknamed India's own Warren Buffett, died Sunday in Mumbai city, Press Trust of India news agency reported. He was 62.

One of the best-performing sectors during the pandemic, the technology sector is now facing a challenging time as a reversal in fortunes has companies tightening their belts.

Telus Corp. wants to pass on credit card fees to customers and plans to add a 1.5 per cent 'processing fee' starting this fall.

Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Peter Foran takes his wife Janice for romantic rides on his wheelchair. They travel along Vancouver's bike lanes and waterfront paths, with her sitting sideways across his lap.

There was something puzzling about the young Western women staying at the youth hostels in Seoul, thought researcher Min Joo Lee. After visiting eight hostels and interviewing 123 women, mostly from North America and Europe, Lee came to the conclusion that many had been drawn to the country by what she calls "the Netflix effect."

On the surface it's a food festival, but the purpose of the inaugural B.C. Dumpling Festival is to fight racism by bridging cultures through dumplings.

As the squad prepares to face Finland on Monday in a game that will decide who finishes atop Group A at the world junior hockey championship, the host's biggest enemy might just be complacency.

Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the men's singles final at the National Bank Open on Sunday.

Simona Halep has won the National Bank Open for a third time. The Romanian beat Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Sunday in the WTA event's final.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Defects Investigation has opened a query into seat belt pretensioners on certain 2020-2022 Kia/Hyundai vehicles, saying that they may rupture or explode.

A cleaning service employee who was working at a General Motors plant in Michigan was killed Thursday during an altercation with a co-worker, authorities said.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. dipped to just under the US$4 mark for the first time in more than five months — good news for consumers who are struggling with high prices for many other essentials.

CTV News Programs
Local News
© 2022 All rights reserved. Use of this Website assumes acceptance of Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy

source