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As beds close, workers face uncertain future

With 62 people due to receive layoff notices in the near future, Sue Joly said her workplace is “pretty grim” right now.
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About a dozen members of CUPE Local 1623 and their supporters protested in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office Feb. 13. They were speaking out about the impending closure of 30 of the 60 beds in an ALC unit at the former Memorial Hospital site. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

With 62 people due to receive layoff notices in the near future, Sue Joly said her workplace is “pretty grim” right now.

Joly is a personal support worker in a unit for alternate level of care (ALC) patients set up at Health Sciences North's Sudbury Outpatient Centre, which was previously known as the Memorial site.

She was one of about 12 people to protest the situation in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office Feb. 13.

The layoff notices are being handed out because half of the 60 beds at the facility are due to close on March 31. The rest of the beds are due to close a year later.

ALC patients are those who no longer require acute care, but cannot find placement in a long-term care facility or another community-based facility.

“There's so much uncertainty right now,” Joly said. “Who is staying, who is leaving?”

There's also uncertainty for some of the facility's patients, who are in the process of being placed in long-term care homes as the Sudbury Outpatient Centre beds close.

“They're wondering where they're going to go, and who is going to go,” she said. “It's a lot of distress for them. It's heartbreaking.”

Joly said it's “sad” the North East Local Health Integration Network (North East LHIN) doesn't have the funding to keep all of the beds open, given that there doesn't seem to be enough resources to care for everyone.

Even though about 150 new nursing home beds opened in the city last year, it seems more are needed, she said.

About a dozen members of CUPE Local 1623 and their supporters protested in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office Feb. 13. They were speaking out about the impending closure of 30 of the 60 beds in an ALC unit at the former Memorial Hospital site. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

About a dozen members of CUPE Local 1623 and their supporters protested in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office Feb. 13. They were speaking out about the impending closure of 30 of the 60 beds in an ALC unit at the former Memorial Hospital site. Photo by Marg Seregelyi.

CUPE Local 1623 president Dave Shelefontiuk said his union represents about 58 of those who will receive layoff notices, including personal support workers, dietary workers, scheduling clerks and ward clerks.

The Sudbury Outpatient Centre workers may receive positions elsewhere at the hospital; however, that's because Health Sciences North has intentionally put in a lot of temporary workers over the last few years, he said.

He said he fears the temporary workers will lose their jobs in favour of the workers who have received layoff notices.

“We have people who have been temporary for two years that have bought stuff thinking that they're going to have a permanent job at that hospital, who are now going to be out of a job,” Shelefontiuk said.

While health-care authorities have talked about various alternate plans aimed at keeping seniors out of hospital, he said he's not convinced these measures will be enough.

“Attach some specific times and dates,” Shelefontiuk said. “Don't just keep giving us your verbal diarrhea and telling us this is what you're going to do. We need some action.”

He said he attempted to meet with Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci about the matter two weeks ago, but was told he was unavailable. The MPP hasn't responded to an e-mail requesting a meeting, he said.

Shelefontiuk said he wants Bartolucci to bring the government the message that “we need those beds.”

“Until you have something concrete in place, don't cut those beds out of our system,” he said. “If you want us to provide a better hospital, then give us the tools to do it. Don't cut us off at the knees.”

Annik Bisson, a ward clerk at the ALC unit, said she and her colleagues are doing their best to provide good patient care while dealing with the stress of the impending layoffs.

“Even if I keep my job, I might be bumping someone, and they might be losing their job,” she said. “The morale is low, so we're trying to make the best of it. Not knowing is always scary.”

Posted by Arron Pickard  

 


Heidi Ulrichsen

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