(Advocate file photo).

(Advocate file photo).

AHS pledges to hire 15 more nurses as union arranges meeting with minister over ‘staffing crisis’

Union manager doubts additonal RNs will be enough

An Aug. 1 meeting to address a nurse staffing “crisis” at Red Deer hospital has been arranged between the nurses’ union and Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman.

David Harrigan, labour relations manager for the United Nurses of Alberta, said he wants to get the message across to the minister that “people are feeling incredibly stressed.”

He explained some nurses in the hospital’s emergency department have been working 16 hour days and coming in on their days off because Alberta Health Services is not hiring enough RNs to carry the work load.

About 80 regular and temporary nurses work in the hospital’s emergency room. Based on the 230 hours of overtime they have worked, the UNA estimates they are 27 nurses short.

Alberta Health Services announced this week it would hire about 15 more ER nurses in Red Deer.

Harrigan called it “a little bit of progress… 15 is certainly better than zero,” but he believes it won’t be enough.

The UNA is planning to meet with Alberta Health Services officials on Tuesday to get more details.

Harrigan said the under-staffing situation that’s gone on for two years, is lengthening patient waits: He’s received emails stating that some people have waited eight hours to be treated in the ER.

The UNA is grieving the situation. In June, the union filed a grievance to try to resolve what the union calls a critical and chronic staff shortage at the emergency department.


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Red deer hospital