Nurses union issues ‘S.O.S.’ for Grace ICU
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A wave of resignations has left Grace Hospital’s intensive care unit “chronically short,” with one nurse for every three patients, according to the Manitoba Nurses Union.
Staff were already feeling stressed and unsupported while trying to cope with an “immense workload,” said MNU president Darlene Jackson.
The MNU used its Twitter account to share an “S.O.S.,” which a member submitted in writing.
The anonymous writer said the situation has become “so bad” the Winnipeg hospital in St. James is “tripling” nurses.
“We are told to ‘just try our best,’” the union quoted the nurse as writing. “We’re drowning, and we’re not OK.”
The union said 13 nurses have quit since the beginning of summer.
“Nurses are finding this so stressful because, at the end of the day, (they’re) responsible for providing that care,” Jackson said Tuesday evening.
Normally, the level of care is one nurse for every patient on the ICU, she added.
Staff are committed to caring for ICU patients who require complex care, Jackson said.
Some patients need to be ventilated or require close observation.
The MNU said shortages are widespread in Manitoba, leaving nurses overworked and stressed out.
“We are seeing nurses leave facilities, leave the province or leave the profession,” Jackson said. “There are not enough nurses in the system to go around anymore.”
Health Sciences Centre’s emergency room is in “dire straits,” and there are a lot of vacancies in the Grace ER, the union leader said.
“There is no fast remedy to get nurses into the system,” she said. “They need to retain every nurse in the system to hold this system together until we have adequate numbers to provide the care.”
The MNU regularly receives “S.O.S.” emails from nurses across the province, sharing some anonymously with the public, said Jackson.
Many nurses want to bring concerns to light but are afraid they will face consequences from their employer for speaking publicly, the union said.
A Manitoba government spokesman said 23 nurses are enrolled in the critical care orientation program’s September intake.
A total of 178 have graduated since last year.
The province is spending almost $20 million to add more than 250 nurse training seats at five post-secondary institutions this year, as part of plans to add close to 400, among other investments or financial supports, the spokesman said.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 10:01 PM CDT: Updates headline, body