UCP INACTION ON STAFFING SHORTAGE CLOSES BEDS IN ST. ALBERT, RED DEER
ST. ALBERT – The Alberta NDP is calling for the UCP government to take action in the wake of ongoing critical staff shortages causing further bed closures in St. Albert and Red Deer.
Critical staffing shortages have prompted Alberta Health Services to close nine inpatient surgery beds at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert without public notice. AHS also closed seven ER beds at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre with no end date.
The repeated bed closures at hospitals and health care centres across the province come as the UCP government seeks wage cuts for nurses and frontline health care workers despite the ongoing risks and pressures presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley joined nurses in St. Albert Monday as they held an information picket.
“At a time when other large provinces are providing incentives for nurses to move there, Jason Kenney is determined to drive nurses and other frontline workers out of Alberta. That’s a serious threat to the long-term strength of our public healthcare system.” said Notley.
“We have a backlog of Albertans with untreated conditions and we have an exhausted healthcare workforce. Yet, the response from Jason Kenney and the UCP is to threaten to cut their wages. It’s shameful.”
St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud was also in attendance to support nurses in her community.
“The Sturgeon Community Hospital doesn’t just serve St. Albert, it’s the hospital for families all over this region,” said Renaud. “But after these frontline heroes have done so much for us, the thanks they get from Dale Nally, Shane Getson and the rest of Jason Kenney’s UCP government is a threat to cut their wages. That’s unacceptable.”
Orissa Shima has been a Registered Nurse for 21 years, working at the Sturgeon for the last 15 years. Despite repeated excuses made by Health Minister Tyler Shandro, she says closing inpatient surgery beds is not a normal practice in the summer, and is because the hospital currently has over 26 vacancies resulting in critical staff shortages on some shifts.
“Nurses are tired. We’ve been working full out, short staffed, extra shifts, overtime, mandatory overtime, and we are feeling depleted,” she said.
“We want people to know their healthcare is at risk. Less nurses means less care for Albertans. At a time when we are critically short staffed, to the point we are closing beds across the province, we should not be chasing nurses out of the profession.”
Health care bed closures have also been reported in Edson, St. Paul, Boyle, Elk Point, Galahad, Westlock, Fairview, Rocky Mountain House, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright , Rimbey, Lacombe, Barrhead, Grande Prairie and Edmonton.