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Health Sciences North working at 100% capacity to tackle surgery backlog while trying to attract more nurses

Hospital webpage shows more than 30 openings for registered nurses and registered practical nurses
Health Sciences North. (File)

The effort to attract more health care workers to Health Sciences North continues. 

The careers section of the HSN website shows more than 30 openings for registered nurses and registered practical nurses, among various other listings for a wide selection of hospital workers.

The current vacancies are almost identical to job postings that were listed six months ago at HSN in the first week of April 2021. Some of the latest job offerings are for temporary positions. Most are for permanent positions. 

This comes amidst recent Toronto media reports suggesting that the nursing profession in Ontario is in a crisis.

Information and advocacy groups have addressed what they say is a shortage of nurses, including the Careers in Nursing website, which stated, "Canada is facing a growing nursing shortage, largely because of an aging nursing workforce. Even if lots of new nurses are trained, it will be very difficult to offset the large number of nursing retirements that are anticipated."  

The website predicted that by 2022, Canada will face a shortage of 60,000 RNs.

RNAO, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, said the stress of the pandemic is taking a serious toll. 

Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), spoke out in the past week and said the shortage was a crisis situation being made worse by provincial legislation that is capping nurses' wages and salaries. 

Grinspun said hospitals are doing all they can to keep the nurses on staff, to deal with COVID-19 patients as well as helping to address the backlog in non-urgent surgeries.

So far, however, the shortage does not appear to be slowing down the surgical backlog at the Sudbury hospital.

"As of October 4th, the surgical wait list has 4,490 patients, down from a peak of 4,651 this summer," said the HSN communication office. 

This number compares with 3,500 patients that were on the surgical waitlist prior to the start of the pandemic. 

"Surgical teams at HSN continue to make progress in tackling this list with surgical volumes ramped up to 100 per cent. Despite the fact that the surgical waitlist is above pre-pandemic levels, wait times for surgery at HSN are below provincial averages in the vast majority of specialties," said HSN on Tuesday.

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at He covers health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible by funding from the federal government.