Staffing increase at health centre made permanent

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Increased staffing levels at the Davidson Health Centre are here to stay.

Three new positions added last year on a temporary basis have been made permanent, management confirmed to the Leader recently.

Gayle Riendeau, acting president and CEO of Heartland Health Region, said that the trial period for those positions was extended in the summer.

Ultimately, she added, “we came to the conclusion that the enhancements we had made were meeting the needs at the site.”

The “staffing enhancements” were among the measures introduced by the health region last year with the goal of improving the centre’s efficiency, safety and quality of care.

The three additions included a licensed practical nurse (LPN) working on the night shift — 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The region also created an assistant head nurse position, working three eight-hour shifts per week, or a total of 24 hours each week.

Finally, a combined lab/X-ray technician joined the staff for eight hours per week.

The three positions were announced in October of 2016, when they were filled on a temporary basis.

In the months that followed, the region continued to hold regular meetings between staff and management to discuss and address concerns.

“We’ve found it to be beneficial . . . in helping to resolve issues,” Riendeau said, adding that the meetings would continue, as would the strive to keep improving service and outcomes at the facility. “You’re never done making quality improvements.”

This past August, management again met with staff and the union local representative to inform them that the positions would be made permanent.

Riendeau said the positions were reposted with the new terms and it was her understanding as of mid-September that “they’ve all been filled.”

Local nurses went public with their concerns over staffing levels at the centre in August 2016, after the region chose not to fill a vacant relief nursing position there.

In a visit to Davidson town council, several nurses reported that the situation at the centre had become unsafe, posing a risk to the safety and health of both patients and staff.

In the weeks that followed, several patients also spoke out, describing how service interruptions at the centre resulted in them being sent home or transferred to other facilities.

In September, local staff met with rural and remote health minister Greg Ottenbreit in Davidson. The three temporary positions were announced the following month.

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