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Sault Area Hospital disputes claims of nursing cuts

NEWS RELEASE SAULT AREA HOSPITAL ************************* May 4, 2010 - Recently, articles and letters have appeared in local media alleging the elimination of a significant number of nursing positions at Sault Area Hospital (SAH).
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NEWS RELEASE

SAULT AREA HOSPITAL

************************* May 4, 2010 - Recently, articles and letters have appeared in local media alleging the elimination of a significant number of nursing positions at Sault Area Hospital (SAH).

These allegations have been made by both the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and some elected officials in the Ontario legislature.

At no time did any representatives of the aforementioned contact SAH officials to request or verify the information they were citing.

Specifically, it was originally alleged that 23 registered nursing positions had been eliminated at SAH over the past year.

This was subsequently amended to 29 in the latest correspondence from the president of ONA.

Furthermore, according to the “ONA Provincial Chart on Impact of Nursing Cuts on Patient Care,” SAH was cited for “Reductions in Oncology, medicine, Critical Care, primary care, CCU (Coronary Care Unit), surgical and ICU.”

While SAH has no knowledge of the source of the information being disseminated by ONA, we offer the following facts in response:

- There has not been a Coronary Care Unit at SAH since 1996

- There is also no such thing as a primary care unit at SAH. Primary care is typically in reference to care provided by family physicians and other doctors in the community. Hospitals are by definition secondary or tertiary providers of health care

- Critical Care and Intensive Care Units (ICU) at SAH are one and the same.

Given the above, it is impossible for us to directly address claims of position reductions in these specific areas.

As to the job losses themselves, our official payroll records indicate that 582 RNs were employed by SAH as of April 1, 2010.

This compares with 593 on April 1, 2009.

While this would indicate that 11 fewer RNs were on the SAH payroll at that particular point in time, it is important to note that this is not synonymous with 11 nursing positions having been permanently eliminated.

People may leave their jobs for any number of reasons, including retirement, and others also join the organization to fill many of those same positions.

As of today, there are currently 29 (18 full-time and 11 part-time) open registered nursing positions for which SAH is actively recruiting.

We can also confirm that no RNs were laid off during the previous year.

While indeed some positions may be eliminated from time to time, others are also created.

This is part of an ongoing assessment and reassessment of how we operate to ensure efficiency in providing quality care to our patients. Improvements - by definition - require change in the way things are done.

Based on all the verifiable information at our disposal, SAH must dispute the contention that as many as 29 registered nursing positions have been permanently eliminated over the past year.

In fact, according to payroll records and the current number of open job postings, it would appear reasonable that a net gain in positions may be realized once those postings are filled.

For more information on SAH, please visit here.

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