P.E.I. hospitals, nursing homes dealing with nursing shortage

The nationwide shortage of nurses is being felt in some hospitals and nursing homes in P.E.I.

Health PEI has 75 vacant nursing positions to fill

The nationwide shortage of nurses is being felt in some hospitals and nursing homes on P.E.I.

Mount Continuing Care administrator Lindsay Dickieson says they have enough nursing staff but if someone calls in sick or leaves for another job, it's tough to replace them.

"Right now, I do feel it's a bit of a challenge with the market. We would love to see more applying or more out there looking for work," said Dickieson.

The P.E.I. Nurses' Union says more has to be done to help with the shortage of nurses in P.E.I. (Canadian Press)
P.E.I. Nurses Union President Mona O'Shea says they are hearing about the nursing shortage from their members.

"We hear from the membership that they're exhausted, they're overworked. Our part-timers are working full-time and our full-timers are working over that," said O'Shea.  

No one to backfill

The union president says if nurses already working in the system want to try another short term job, they can't because there's no one to backfill them.  

"They're not being able to be backfilled in their current position so there's concerns about that," said O'Shea.

Health PEI did confirm that does happen in some cases.

Health PEI Chief Nursing Officer Brenda Worth (CBC)
Brenda Worth, chief nursing officer with Health PEI says the province has 75 vacant nursing positions. There is a mix of full-time, part-time and temporary work for registered nurses, nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses.

"It's not uncommon," said Worth. "The rest of the country is feeling the same and we've been managing this for a long time, we watch our nursing forecasts very closely."

The Canadian Nurses Union says nationally, Canada is short about 22,000 nurses and the association predicts that shortage will grow to 60,000 by 2022.

Officials predict the next couple of years will be more challenging as the workforce gets older and many younger nurses take time off for maternity leave.

Nursing students interviewed before graduation

In particular, acute care and emergency room nurses are tough to find now.

Worth says nursing students are being interviewed months before they graduate.

"We need them, we absolutely need them. We absolutely have all kinds of vacancies. We have work for them and we have temporary and permanent opportunities."

But Rebecca Hume, a registered nurse at the Mount Continuing Care facility says she would like to see more full-time permanent job postings.

Hume left a job with the province for full-time work at the facility.

"They have a lot of positions available but they're 20 per cent, 50 per cent or whatever, that's hard when you're on your own or raising a family."

Health PEI says it is working to create more full-time jobs by combining some part-time positions.

Nurses employed by Health PEI will be surveyed and asked for suggestions as part of its plan to develop a three-year nursing strategy set  to be released later this year.


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