Nurses working in Winnipeg hospital's sexual assault program have resigned
Several nurses working in a department at a Winnipeg hospital that provides examinations for victims of sexual assault have resigned from their positions, leaving the department short-staffed.
Shared Health confirmed Tuesday that four out of 13 nurses working casual positions in its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg have resigned. The casual nurses work shifts on call in the department during their off time, and hold other full-time nursing jobs.
Darlene Jackson, the president of the Manitoba Nurses’ Union, said the staff members who resigned had been advocating for the program, but say it’s still not functioning well and they’re not receiving support.
“They are in a position where they are just done and they are not going to be working in the program anymore,” Jackson said. “We are losing some very skilled nurses out of that program as a result.”
In April 2022, the province announced funding for seven full-time positions which would run out of a space at HSC. Shared Health says six of those jobs have now been filled, and the nurses hired need time to be trained.
“We have been filling the positions and education takes a while in order for these nurses to be competent and able to do the exams,” said Jennifer Cumptsy, the executive director of acute health services at HSC. “Knowing that, we are working towards a program that will be able to offer that service 24/7 for patients that need that care.”
Speaking in the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Audrey Gordon called the lack of nurses in the department unacceptable.
“These shifts at HSC need to be filled as committed by our government,” she said. “And they have received the funding to make these positions full-time and to have coverage 24/7. And that is my expectation as a health minister and it is the expectation of our government.”
Shared Health said the resignations took them by surprise, and work is happening quickly to cover the schedule, including asking doctors who have expressed interest to help out.
"Six nurses have been hired to permanent positions as part of ongoing efforts to build a provincial program that doesn't rely almost exclusively on nurses working casually," a spokesperson for Shared Health said in an email to CTV News.
"Their hiring will move these vital services from a longstanding reliance on a pool of highly specialized casual nurses picking up shifts to a dedicated workforce with coverage for days, evenings and nights. It will also offer support to health care professionals providing this care in locations outside of Winnipeg."
The spokesperson said Shared Health remains "grateful" for the casual nurses who continue to pick up shifts.
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