As a registered nurse at an acute care hospital in the province of Alberta since 1988, I would like to call attention to an issue that will have a devastating impact on the quality of health care and patient safety in this province.
Health Minister Ron Liepert announced that the nursing shortage in Alberta went from 1,400 nurses to 30 in a single day. This was not some miracle. What it means is that a hiring freeze was implemented and vacant registered nurse positions mysteriously disappeared.
I am writing to tell you that the nursing shortage is not over in Alberta and that we need to hire RNs more desperately than ever.
“Replacing” RNs with licensed practical nurses and patient care assistants is not the answer, but rather a question of fiscal short-sightedness. Studies show that investing in registered nurses can save money in the long run, with reduced hospitalization times and fewer adverse patient outcomes.
If immediate action is not taken, the situation is likely to worsen.
Recruiters from other provinces and other countries have become very active here and we are in serious jeopardy of losing more nurses.
Senior nurses are looking to retire in the next few months rather than face more cutbacks like those we had in the 1990s. Memories are vivid of the last cutback experience from which Alberta has never truly recovered.
Registered nurses are the very heart of health care, and many of us fear that Minister Liepert’s dangerous experiment of cutting RNs will leave Alberta’s health-care system dead on the operating table.
Catherine Christensen RN MA