The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed "fragility" in the province's health-care system and the "massive disconnect" between nurses and decision makers, says the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed "fragility" in the province's health-care system and the "massive disconnect" between nurses and decision makers, says the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba.

It surveyed more than 1,100 nurses, whose responses highlighted the lack of provincial planning and preparedness as the second wave of COVID-19 struck, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the advocacy group.

That lack of preparedness resulted in patients and clients not receiving the level of care they need because of staffing shortages, mandated overtime, increased patient needs, and nurses being redeployed to areas outside of their expertise, the association said.

"Despite the fact that the second wave was highly predictable, the government failed to have a long-term pandemic plan for the people of Manitoba, which has hurt the people of Manitoba," president Jennifer Dunsford said.

"Given our experience with the first wave, the government should have taken appropriate steps to increase contact tracing capacity, hire more staff and provide health-care workers with the resources they need in order to protect Manitobans and save lives."

Nurses who responded to the survey also expressed worry about impacts for their families, their own mental and physical health, and the long-term effects on the profession, including a potential for many to leave nursing altogether.

It is nurses who provide compassionate and expert care to patients in Manitoba and often have the most in-depth knowledge of patients, clients and populations, executive director Cheryl Cusack said in the release.

"This makes it extremely troubling that the survey findings show a massive disconnect between nurses and decision makers as they express concern for clients, whether those individuals are in long-term care, acute care or the community," said Cusack.

The Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba advocates for all nursing designations, nursing students, retired nurses, the profession of nursing and healthy public policy.

"We strongly request that the government of Manitoba take steps immediately to provide nurses with the resources they need to do their job, increase capacity in the provincial health system and ensure nurses are included in health-care decisions."