Sudbury hospital staff call for more adequate funding

Health care workers took part in a rally on Friday in Sudbury, calling for more funding for Health Sciences North, after the hospital cut positions.

Rally organized by CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

A rally was held on Friday at the Paris Street entrance of Health Sciences North in Sudbury. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Health care workers took part in a rally on Friday in Sudbury, calling for more funding for Health Sciences North, after the hospital made recent job cuts.

The rally was organized by CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. It says anticipated budget cuts will result in the elimination of hundreds of hours for cleaners, personal support workers and other hospital staff.

Dave Shelefontiuk, president of CUPE 1623 says future cuts "will certainly have a detrimental impact on patient care."

Secretary-treasurer of CUPE's Ontario Council of Hospital Unions Sharon Richer says hospitals in Ontario are funded at a much lower level than other provinces.

"All these looming cuts amount to less direct care contact with patients and an increased risk of infection as patient rooms are not given a deep clean when the hospital is overcrowded," she said.

Nursing positions affected

Representatives from the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) were also at the rally.

Vicki McKenna, provincial president of ONA, says the cuts at HSN are only based on dollars and are not in the best interest of patients. She adds the focus needs to be on health care.

"We believe that it's wrong and there needs to be a U-turn."

McKenna says research has shown that when registered nurses are reduced at hospital bedside it can lead to higher risk of infections, as well as increased morbidity and mortality rates.

Kelly Latimer is the bargaining unit president for ONA Local 13, which represents the registered nurses at HSN

"I've already heard from a patient to say 'Will there be a nurse at the bedside to care for me when I get there in the next few months?' and I said the ones that will be left will take very good care of you, but you may have to wait," she said.

Latimer adds that the nurses who are left can't assume their positions are safe, which is adding to low morale at the hospital.

"The first round of cuts have happened and now we're in the layoff process, which bumping is occurring...Nobody knows who's going to be sitting beside you tomorrow...cause we don't know who's bumping where or what's going to happen."

Core hospital services retained HSN says

In response, David McNeil, HSN's senior vice president of patient experience and digital transformation, says system pressures put the hospital in a significant fiscal challenge.

He says they tried to minimize the impact to direct patient care, adding that in HSN's reorganizing they worked to ensure core hospital services were retained.

"We haven't reduced beds, nor have we cut in areas like critical care, cardiac care, trauma, or emergency care where those are essential services that a hospital has to provide in a community," he said.

With files from Angela Gemmill

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