Red Deer hospital settles dispute, welcomes neonatal nurse

A dispute over nursing levels at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s emergency department has been settled.

The announcement came the same day it was reported the hospital has hired its first neonatal nurse practationer.

The United Nurses of Alberta had filed a grievance about staffing levels and it was announced Tuesday that 11.7 full-time equivalent registered nurse relief positions will be designated for exclusive use in the emergency department.

The nurses’ union and Alberta Health Services have also agreed to collaborate on other matters, such as compliance with provincial health and safety regulations, and improved communication when staffing shortages arise.

Meantime, babies requiring specialized treatment have an extra set of qualified hands caring for them, with the addition of the facility’s first neonatal nurse practitioner.

Sandra Walker-Kendall, who began working full time in Red Deer’s unit earlier this month, brings more than 30 years of neonatal intensive care nursing experience to the job.

“I am incredibly honoured to be part of the team bringing this enhanced level of care to newborns at the hospital,” says Walker-Kendall.

Neonatal nurse practitioners have the ability to assess, diagnose, prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and interpret results of those tests for families of patients.

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