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Nursing Cuts at the Youville Nursing Home, St. Albert

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Convenant Health is almost completely eliminating professional registered nurses from direct care positions at the Youville Nursing Home, St. Albert.

More than 100 people were protesting registered nursing cuts at Youville Home compromising care and safety of patients in St. Albert.

The auxiliary hospital cares for more than 200 seniors with long-term or chronic health problems. Nurses say the quality of care will suffer when Covenant Health replaces most registered nurses with licensed practical nurses, attendants and other health-care providers.

“We want to shed some light on the transformation that has been going on in long-term care services in the province, and this is just another example,” United Nurses of Alberta president Heather Smith said after the protest Friday.

“It’s a cheapening of the long-term care services that we offer to people in this province. … Basically, seniors are getting the short end of the stick.”

Smith said studies show reducing the number of registered nurses will increase the number of trips seniors make to hospital.

She said that until three years ago, Youville was a designated nursing home, which means it was governed by the provincial Nursing Homes Act. Under that act, a patient must receive 1.9 hours of care each day, and roughly one quarter of that care must be done by a registered nurse.

Three years ago, the designation was changed from nursing home to auxiliary hospital. As a result, the home is no longer legally required to provide the same hours of service.

Youville executive director Cecilia Monro said the company’s service agreement with Alberta Health Services sets the same standard of care: 1.9 hours of care each day, one quarter by a registered nurse.

“Our staffing levels meet and exceed the provincial standards and will continue to do so,” she said.

Youville has had a staffing model that was unsustainable, she said, adding that registered nurses were routinely performing tasks that can be done by licensed practical nurses, such as wound care, physical assessments and administering intramuscular needles for pain control.

The move is designed to become financially stable, she said, adding Covenant Health is a not-for-profit agency.
On any given day in Alberta, more than 700 people are living in a hospital while they wait for a long-term care bed. Zwozdesky said the 2,000 new spaces are expected to ease the pressure on hospitals.

Adapted from Edmonton Journal, June 28, 2010

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