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Candidates, MLAs back area nurses in their drive to protect patients

May 9, 2013

Nurses at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital won support last night from candidates in all three Nanaimo-area constituencies in the fight to stop VIHA from cutting nurses on key hospital units and replacing them with care aides.

Support came from candidates representing the three political parties who were represented at an all-candidates meeting held at Dover Bay Secondary School.

Leonard Krog, (NDP incumbent for Nanaimo) said although the plan is an operational matter for VIHA, “everyone here should be concerned when they’re imposing a scheme in which LPNs and RNs are replaced by care aides. That’s not OK. With great respect to the care aides’ training, they’re not the same thing. “

“It might work but I’m not convinced that you should take a risk with patient care. Unless this has been implemented somewhere and has been shown not to harm patients, any wise government would review that decision.”

In conversations later, NDP candidates Barry Avis (Parksville Qualicum) and Doug Routley (Nanaimo North Cowichan endorsed Krog’s remarks.

Parksville Qualicum Conservative candidate Dr. David Coupland also supported the nurses, accusing VIHA management of “top down decision-making” and failing to ensure that the nurses were in the room when the plan was developed.

“Unless you have local input you`ll get push-back and should get push-back.”

He said when nurses jobs are being downloaded to others “you need to determine what is the nature of the work, and to do that you need nurses in the room. I would support a review definitely. You have to look at the process and the impact on patient safety.”

Coupland’s remarks were supported by Conservative candidates John Sherry (Nanaimo North Cowichan) and Bryce Crigger (Nanaimo).

Green Party candidates Ian Gartshore (Nanaimo) and Mayo McDonough (Nanaimo North Cowichan) also backed the nurses in conversations before and after the meeting.

Liberal candidates did not attend the meeting which was sponsored by local teachers. However, at an all-candidates meeting in Parksville Monday, Liberal candidate Michelle Stilwell expressed her concern.

“It’s important to keep open communication between nurses and VIHA to understand the new patient model. Patient care and safety shouldn’t be compromised. It needs further investigation,” Stilwell said.

Kelley Charters, BCNU steward at NRGH and spokesperson for the nurses said she was encouraged by the candidates’ support.

“It shows they understand some of the issues we’re facing providing safe patient care and they support our concerns. They’re important voices representing the public and hopefully VIHA will listen.”

The nurses say care aides are a valuable addition to the care team to help patients with the activities of daily living. VIHA should not use them to replace the skills and knowledge of licensed and registered nursing professionals.

For more information contact:
Kelley Charters
BCNU Steward, NRGH
BC Nurses' Union
Phone: 250-616-4280
Cell: 250-616-4280

Art Moses
BCNU Communications
BC Nurses' Union
Phone: 604-433-2268
Cell: 604-868-4259

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