St. Boniface Hospital staff survey fails to focus on nurses' concerns, union says
Input sought days after bed shortage forced ER to turn away non-urgent patients
St. Boniface Hospital is surveying staff for their thoughts on the direction of the facility amid concerns about over-worked employees, bed shortages and the quality of patient care — but the nurses' union says the survey rings hollow.
The hospital sent out an internal memo Monday, obtained by CBC News, that invited staff to take part in a short survey about operations at the institution.
"We understand that the past year has been challenging for all of us in this period of uncertainty and unprecedented changes in our health-care system," reads the memo from St. Boniface president and CEO Martine Bouchard.
"That is why it is so important that we come together, resolve to build on our strengths, and focus on the direction we want for St. Boniface Hospital."
One question asks staff to select options that exemplify the hospital's strengths; another wants workers to identify the top areas for improvement; and others ask what core characteristics of St. Boniface should be retained moving forward.
The survey comes on the heels of staff complaints, including by a St. Boniface doctor, about a week after a surge in patients and a bed shortage led to another memo instructing employees to turn away non-urgent patients. That was on June 12, when emergency room levels had reached "critical" and "unsafe."
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority president Réal Cloutier downplayed the language in the memo, saying it did not reflect what was actually going on in the hospital, and that people with emergencies continued to be admitted.
Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said Wednesday that the union is encouraged the hospital is taking steps to listen to nurses' concerns, though she criticized the quality of the survey circulated on Monday.
Consultation should be more focused on what nurses who work the front-lines feel should be done to improve patient care at the hospital, she said, rather than on "asking leading questions that don't address the problems that nurses have been raising repeatedly."
"After nearly two years of unprecedented upheaval in our health-care system, it's unfortunate that a survey that is supposed to inform something as important as a strategic plan does not focus on the core issues nurses are facing at the hospital," Jackson said in a release.
"We know nurses are dealing with excessive overtime and unsustainable workload due to ongoing health-care cuts and ER closures that have hindered their ability to provide quality patient care. First and foremost, any new strategic plan should focus on addressing these core issues."
St. Boniface Hospital's administration declined CBC News' requests for an interview, but provided one sentence in an emailed statement.
"This survey is part [of] St. Boniface Hospital's strategic planning process and getting feedback from our staff, our board and other key stakeholders, both positive and otherwise, through various means," it reads.
The survey comes as the Manitoba government presses on with sweeping changes meant to consolidate services in the health-care system, including the reduction of six emergency rooms in Winnipeg to three.
What do you believe are St. Boniface Hospital's most important strengths? Please check up to 10 strengths that resonate most with you?
What do you believe are St. Boniface Hospital's five most important areas of opportunity for improvement or growth as it plans for the future?
Which of the following do you believe DO NOT represent important areas of opportunity to pursue for improvement or growth for St. Boniface Hospital at this time?
Which of the following characteristics of St. Boniface Hospital do you believe are so core to St. Boniface Hospital that they absolutely must be retained for the future?
When you think about St. Boniface Hospital, which words and phrases resonate most with you?
Which of the following most make you proud to work at St. Boniface Hospital?
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us as we embark on this planning process?