Restructured patient care in Island hospitals not affecting Comox Valley

Island Health's controversial patient care model will not affect staffing at St. Joseph's General Hospital, reassures the hospital's president and CEO.

Jane Murphy explains IH's staffing changes won't affect St. Joseph's because it is an affiliate hospital; though receives some funding from Island Health, it is owned by the Bishop of Victoria.

According to Island Health, the new patient care model reorganizes staffing, increasing the number of care aides working on various hospital units. IH says there will be no job loss for nurses due to the extra care aides, but it does expect less overtime hours will be necessary.

IH rolled out its new patient care model at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in September. It plans to implement the new model at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals in April.

The BC Nurses' Union has spoken out against the new patient care model since it was first announced this past spring, citing concerns around patient care. The BCNU says the new model replaces nurses with unlicensed care aides and BCNU president Debra McPherson has called the Nanaimo implementation a fail.

At St. Joseph's, Murphy says staffing models are continually assessed and adjusted when needed.

"At our hospital we look at every unit and really look at the patient needs and then work to develop the best model that we think meets the needs of those patients," says Murphy.

For example, Murphy says the hospital recently made staffing changes on its first floor unit, which was a small unit with seven beds. Four additional beds have been added to this unit and they are used for elderly patients in very stable condition.

"With the expansion of the four beds, we did take that opportunity to say, what types of patients would we be caring for there and how do we think their needs could best be met. And in that particular case we will use RNs, LPNs, and some (care) aide coverage through the day," continued Murphy.

"Of course they need care from registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, but they also have a lot of needs around ambulating, (getting up and walking), bathing, eating, toileting, and those are things that a care aide is specifically trained for."

She adds this model is not easily comparable to IH's new model as this unit is not on a medical floor of the hospital, while IH's new model includes medical units in the staffing redesign.

"We don't have plans to change our staffing model at this time on our medical floor," says Murphy, noting the medical floor uses RNs and LPNs and the transitional care unit uses RNs, LPNs and care aides.


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