Alberta Health Services has announced it’s “working diligently” to resolve staffing challenges in the Red Deer hospital emergency department by filling 27 nursing positions.
This includes hiring 12 registered nurses to fill vacancies that have occurred because of retirements or out-of-department transfers. Alberta Health Services is in the process of hiring for the first six of these positions, and is shortlisting applicants for the remaining six.
“We are working through the hiring process as quickly as we can and will have many of these new staff on the unit before the end of August,” states the Alberta Health Services release.
As well 15 new nurse positions are being opened to help urgent care patients at Red Deer hospital.
The first eight of these positions were posted for the rotation that will eventually support the Red Deer hospital emergency department, Intensive Care and Cardiac Care Units. “For the immediate future, these positions will support the emergency department until we are able to stabilize staffing levels,” states AHS.
Seven of the remaining new permanent part-time RN positions will be posted by the end of the week. These will help achieve AHS’s target of adding 15 new positions to the regular relief rotation.
The 15 new RN positions and the 12 filled vacancies will add up to 27 nursing positions to support the ER. An AHS spokesperson said the hope is to get all these positions filled by the fall.
In the meantime, nurses from other parts of the hospital and from Calgary are being brought in to help out in the ER.
“Despite staffing challenges, the department remains fully operational, ” helping patients needing emergency care 24 hours a day, states AHS. But Central Alberta who show up with less urgent needs were cautioned that they may experience longer than normal wait times.
Some patients have complained of having to sit in the ER for eight to 12 hours to be treated.
While David Harrigan, labour relations manager for the United Nurses of Alberta, wasn’t sure whether the nursing hires would be enough to solve all of the problems in the ER, he called it “progress” and believes it will certainly help.
The UNA is planning to meet with Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to discuss the situation on Wednesday.
The union had complained that ER nurses in Red Deer are stressed out by the workload and overtime demands.