We know the unexpected closures of the Roseway Hospital emergency department are frustrating. All staff at Roseway shares these concerns. This is why we are committed to doing everything possible to keep the Roseway Hospital emergency department open 24/7.
The past few years we enjoyed some stability in keeping the emergency department open. This was thanks to our success in recruiting physicians and dependable help from regular locum, or temporary, physicians. We also vigorously recruit other allied health professionals and enjoy close partnerships with training schools such as the Nova Scotia Community College and Dalhousie University
The recent increase in unexpected closures is because there are few options to replace nurses at the last minute when there are unplanned sick calls. The reality is, there is a shortage of experienced nurses across Nova Scotia and there are a limited number of nurses available in the Shelburne area to fill in when someone calls in sick or is unavailable. Recruiting full-time nurses is hard enough in rural Nova Scotia, but it is even more challenging to find nurses willing to work in casual positions and be available on short-notice.
So what happens when a nurse calls in sick? Closing the emergency department is absolutely the last resort. So, staff immediately start a process to exhaust every possibility to find a replacement.
Full time and part time staff are often called back to fill-in at the last minute leading to overtime. We also juggle schedules, trying to shift nurses around to cover deficits. Nurses are often re-assigned from other areas of the hospital. Since we can’t close an inpatient unit with patients in beds, nurses from the emergency department are re-deployed to make sure our patients receive care. This means the emergency department is closed instead. Dedicated nurses have traveled from Yarmouth Hospital and as far away as Digby Hospital to fill in at Roseway. This support is appreciated but it is not sustainable.
What are we doing about the nurse shortage, and what can the community do to help?
We have put a renewed focus on nursing recruitment. We launched the Roseway Hospital Student Sponsorship Program which will focus this year on sponsoring two students in either a Registered Nurse or Diagnostic Imaging Technologist training program.
We are working more closely with the recruitment teams in other health districts to share resources, strategies and contacts. We have attended recruitment events across Atlantic Canada. We are actively recruiting the upcoming Class of 2015 from the Dalhousie Nursing School, Yarmouth site.
We have seen some success with our efforts to recruit physicians to Shelburne County. Now we hope to see similar progress with registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. The community can help by sharing any information they have about friends or relatives who are experienced nurses and are interested in working in the local area.
We are grateful to our nurses, physicians and all staff for their dedication to their patients and to our community.
We apologize for the concern caused by the closures of our emergency department. We want the community to understand that we take this issue very seriously, and we are working to find a solution. We are all committed to working with our partners to explore all viable options to bring stability to emergency department services at Roseway Hospital.
Roseway Hospital Site Manager