Local 301 at the University of Alberta Hospital reports significant movement on resolving numerous Professional Responsibility Concerns in Adult Mental Health Services at the Edmonton hospital’s Emergency Department.
Starting in April 2018, United Nurses of the Alberta members in the department wrote PRCs about a variety of issues, including insufficient baseline staffing (fewer than three RNs or RPNs on all shifts), inadequately trained security staff from a private contractor, poor design and layout of the department, and high numbers of emergency inpatients.
These concerns resulted in staff frequently missing breaks, delayed or incomplete patient assessments, inadequate monitoring of patients on security/patient watch, regular use of the assistant head nurse to provide patient care, high levels of moral distress among staff, and staff reporting feeling unsafe when they come to work, Marie-Therese Mageau, Local 301 President said.
Despite collaborative discussions with the department’s management, UNA members in the Local were unable to get a resolution. As a result, the Local advanced its members’ concerns to the Senior Leader, Mark Snaterse, the Edmonton Zone’s Executive Director of Addiction and Mental Health. Local PRC officials and staff met Snaterse on October 5 and December 21, 2018, in an effort to resolve the concerns.
The discussions were transparent, respectful and collaborative and, as a result, the following actions were taken to resolve PRCs in the department:
- Permanent funding was found for 3RN/RPNs on all shifts
- Funding was found for a staffing clerk position
- Program management and Provincial Staffing Services worked together to cross-train more casuals for a relief pool for the University Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Hospital
- The practice of pulling Adult Mental Health RN/RPNs to other parts of the Emergency Department was discontinued
- Frequently prescribed medications were added to the Pyxis machine closest to the department
- Mirrors were installed to eliminate blind spots in the department
- Access to Anderson Hall and Psychiatric Day Hospital at Alberta Hospital was opened 24/7 to help cope with mental health emergency inpatient numbers in the Edmonton Zone
As a result, Local members are now confident all problems in the department can be resolved.