In a bid to ease the staffing crisis gripping hospitals, Health Minister Sylvia Jones is ordering nurse and doctor regulators to ‘do everything possible…as quickly as possible’ to accredit people trained in other countries.
The guidelines sent out Thursday say foreign-trained doctors and nurses “represent a significant potential source of additional health human resources that will help alleviate short-term pressures.”
More than 20 emergency rooms at small hospitals across the province were closed over the long weekend as staffing shortages grew, fueled by healthcare workers calling in sick with COVID-19, taking a well-deserved summer vacation or quitting after burning out. heavy workloads in a pandemic that began more than two years ago.
Toronto General Hospital issued an ‘intensive care bed alert’ this week, warning that its intensive care units were ‘at capacity’, and Lakeridge Health temporarily closed the intensive care unit at its hospital in Bowmanville and moved patients to the Ajax-Pickering and Oshawa campuses.
In the meantime, Lakeridge is piloting a “recruitment initiative” to hire nurses and respiratory therapists for emergency and critical care at its hospitals.
“If an employee’s referred candidate is hired, the employee will receive $1,000 at the end of the new hire’s trial period and an additional $1,000 at the one-year anniversary of the new hire with Lakeridge Health,” spokeswoman Julie Dowdie told The Star.
Jones sent his two-page letters of direction to the College of Nurses of Ontario and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario a day after Premier Doug Ford reported they were in preparation for.
She also requested reports from both regulatory colleges within two weeks detailing efforts on “how quickly applicants will be registered” to manage patients in Ontario.
It’s unclear how much faster foreign-trained doctors and nurses can be vetted and commissioned, as experts warn the troubling situation in hospitals could worsen with the expected waves of COVID and coronavirus. flu in autumn and winter.
The two colleges could not immediately be reached for comment on Jones’ letters.
The nursing college said earlier this summer that as of June 21 it had accredited 3,969 internationally educated nurses this year, up 132% from the same period last year when the pandemic was raging. .
Of those credentialed nurses, 762 were hired by hospitals after completing the “supervised practice experience program” launched by the province and the college in January to fast-track credentialing. Another 429 have been hired by nursing homes, the government said.
But with 140 public hospitals in Ontario and more than 600 nursing homes, more nurses and doctors will be needed to fill the staffing gap.
“Do we need more people? One hundred percent. We need more people,” Ford said Wednesday.
Liberal MP and emergency physician Dr Adil Shamji (Don Valley East) said the Progressive Conservative government’s response to the hospital crisis has been “deeply disappointing”.
Ford and Jones only spoke about it publicly earlier this week despite growing concerns as more hospitals reported problems.
“They have made it clear that they have no plan to relieve the pressure on hospitals…no plan to address staffing shortages and no plan to retain healthcare workers who are leaving the profession at an alarming rate,” he said. Shamji said in a statement.
“The solutions aren’t easy, and it’s not something that can be solved overnight,” he added. “If the government continues to sit down…we will only see more closures, more staff shortages and more patients suffering unnecessarily.”
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