Amid the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic, a Newmarket, Ont., hospital is axing dozens of nursing positions.
Southlake Regional Health Centre confirmed on Wednesday that it will lay off 95 registered nurses, but said it plans to hire 81 people into new positions.
In an email to Global News, Southlake spokesperson Kathryn Perrier said the hospital’s plan is to hire 49 registered practical nurses, 29 patient services partners and three social workers.
“Southlake is currently facing a significant financial challenge and has announced a series of changes to address this while maintaining the same high-quality care that we provide to the communities we serve,” the hospital said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, Vicki McKenna, slammed Southlake for cutting registered nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Ont. Nurses' Association (@ontarionurses) September 22, 2020
“The hospital cites its budget as the reason for the cuts, and if this is so, then the government needs to immediately step in and do an audit and prevent these layoffs from happening,” McKenna said in a statement.
Southlake said its deficit is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic and that it’s partnering with Ontario Health Central Region on an independent and external review by a third party.
“The objective is to review our funding position, our actions to date and gain an understanding of Southlake’s funding requirements for 2020/21 and beyond,” the hospital said.
When the layoffs happen, McKenna said Southlake will “greatly struggle” to cope with serving the Newmarket area.
“I would like to know what the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott thinks about these disastrous front-line RN cuts as they are happening right within her riding of Newmarket-Aurora,” McKenna said in the statement.
Southlake said future changes to the hospital will include implementing an updated model of care in some of its inpatient units that will allow members of its “interprofessional clinical team” to work “at the highest scope of their practice.”
“We are also focusing our ambulatory care programs on acute services that will reduce hallway health care at Southlake and help patients have an early discharge home or avoid admission in the first place,” the hospital said.
Southlake said the hospital is also laying off 34 management and administrative/clerical staff, in addition to 15 reductions that were already made last year.
In Tuesday’s statement, McKenna said the Ontario Nurses’ Association would be happy to work with the hospital to come up with solutions that don’t directly affect patient care.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.