Hôtel-Dieu Grace considers ‘new approach’ to address staffing shortages: president

Faced with a shortage of nurses, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor is re-evaluating its approach and considering adding other types of professionals to help the nursing staff.

But the president and CEO, Bill Marra, assures that no jobs will be lost. The move is one of a number of things the hospital is doing to make up for staffing shortages.

CBC News contacted Local 8 of the Ontario Nurses Association, which represents hospital workers, but did not receive comment in time for publication.

Marra spoke about the process to CBC News on Thursday. Here is some of what he had to say.

Explain to us what you are currently seeing in terms of staff shortages at the Hôtel-Dieu Grace.

The challenges we are experiencing today did not happen overnight, nor were they created or caused by the COVID pandemic. It has exacerbated, certainly amplified the challenge that has really been experienced, in my opinion, across the country in terms of health care workers and the challenges of nursing.

Windsor-Essex is, as always, in a very unique situation, because what further aggravates our conditions is the fact that we are, you know, competing with very lucrative positions and signing bonuses for the nurses who are across the border.

One of the strategies we are exploring is the use of unregulated caregivers where appropriate. So, as you probably know, this is by no means a new concept, but it does introduce the use of personal care attendants, patient care, personal aides, personal care attendants, for example , who would work and help the nursing staff.

Can you give me some figures on the shortages you are currently seeing?

About three months ago when we started reporting publicly, there were about 14 or 15 positions we couldn’t fill. And that may not seem like much, but it certainly has an impact on any organization. And also, we had significant absences due to COVID. So, for example, the most recent set of numbers indicates that we had about 100 employees impacted by COVID. A quarter of them are still recovering at home. Many test to work. What we’ve also realized is the impact of burnout where we see that impact…it’s on sick calls. … Every morning the on-call reports come in and every morning you wonder how to replace the sick calls? Where are staff being reassigned?

What does this mean for quality of care?

Quality of care has not been affected, and that’s just a complete tribute to our frontline staff, operations managers and directors. It’s such an all-in-one environment. I had the opportunity to do some rounds a few days ago and visited a few nursing units, and yes, they are tired. They are very, very focused, however, on their patient care.

What happens next?

Our clinical leadership team is developing a plan for the development of a new care approach model, with a focus on our restorative care beds. This will require planning discussions, engagement with internal people, as well as collaboration with our union leaders. There will be no job losses. We may not be able to fill some of the positions I talked about earlier, but no job losses. … If anything, we’re just going to develop a new approach, new roles and responsibilities. Once approved by the board, we engage the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and our friends at Ontario Health. Once that happens, we proceed to implement the plan. So I would like us to submit something to the board, probably in early spring.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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