He said the reduction in full-time hours will mean more senior registered practical nurses at the continuing care centre will bump down to part-time hours and leave less senior members – currently working part-time – without jobs.
St. Joseph's currently employs 36 full-time and 21 part-time registered practical nurses.
When asked about the job losses, Jo-Anne Palkovits, the president and CEO of St. Joseph's, said jobs will be cut, but characterized the changes as part of an effort to provide “better continuity and quality of care.”
The cuts, she said, were the result of a new work schedule meant to have nurses assigned to one of two patient floors at the centre.
“Because of the composition of clients that we have, we feel it will be better to have the same nurses on the first floor all the time, and subsequently the same nurses on the second floor all of the time,” Palkovits said.
However, when the plan was conceived, it was not anticipated that the scheduling changes would result in a need for fewer care hours.
“To be honest, when we developed the schedule, we did not know it would reduce the number of hours, but it has done so,” Palkovits said.
Not surprisingly, the job cuts don't sit well with Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of centre Unions.
“That's the biggest amount of doublespeak I've heard in a long time, that somehow it's best practice to cut patient care,” Hurley said. “The reality is that Ontario has already got the fewest staff to patients (ratio) of any province in the country.”
Fred Labelle, a patient at St. Joseph's, attended the June 6 demonstration to show his support for St. Joseph's staff. He said he fears a reduction in nursing hours means patients will lose out once the cuts are implemented in October.
“They (the nurses) don't have enough time in the day to do their jobs right,” Labelle said.
While St. Joseph's registered practical nursing staff will be reduced in October, the facility will receive extra funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to hire more personal care assistants for its long-term care homes – St. Joseph's Villa and St. Gabriel's Villa — two separate entities from the continuing care centre.
Changes to St. Joseph's case mix index – a classification system used to determine the allocation of financial resources to long-term care homes across the province – means it will have the funding needed to hire 2.8 more full-time equivalent personal care assistants at its St. Joseph's Villa, and an additional 2.4 full-time equivalents at its St. Gabriel's Villa in Chelmsford.