Private agency nurses from distant places are sleeping in the hospital de Salaberry-de-Valleyfield The establishment could not recruit in its area between the two 4 pm shifts.
The move targets nurses and nursing assistants who live more than 50 kilometers (km) from a hospital and must work two double shifts or 16 consecutive hours.
During their eight-hour “break” between two shifts, these employees can sleep for free in rooms on the fourth floor of Suroit Hospital. After that, they return to work at 4 pm.
Unable to recruit here
About fifty employees have benefited from these rooms for a year, ensuring the management of the Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) of Montérégie-Ouest.
“It’s very serious as a way of life. […] We do not agree with the principle”, responded Maxime Lafors-Steben, interim president of the local nurses’ union (FIQ). It is not safe to do 16 hours in a row.
“It worries us to see that, we don’t want to have errors on patients,” he said.
Accomodation will be provided to agency and public network employees who meet the criteria. But it is mainly used by employees in the private sector. CISSS confirms that many live in the Outauais or elsewhere. The move was put in place because even private agencies in Monterey could not provide the human resources.
“We would love to welcome more nurses from Monteregi-Ovest and its surroundings, but there are none,” the CISSS communications department wrote via email. We have therefore taken steps to secure the workforce needed to continue providing care while maintaining the capacity of our hospital.
According to the nurses’ union, it is possible for government employees to sleep on the spot, but “this is rare”. In addition, Mr. LaForce-Steben points out that agency nurses often demand to work 16-hour shifts, or else they refuse to work.
The CISSS states that these rooms will not affect the patient’s reception capacity. CISSS also pays $0.54 per kilometer for people living more than 50 km from a hospital.
Will there be more cases?
According to Quebec’s Association of Guardian Private Companies, these examples can multiply. Henceforth, nurses leaving the public sector for the private sector cannot work in the same region or across their borders for at least one year. Result: They have to go elsewhere.
“This phenomenon will continue to grow, President and CEO Patrice Lapointe believes. When people are prevented from lending, it does not solve the problem.
Remember that the government wants to abolish the use of private agencies in Quebec by 2026.
During the pandemic, Jewish General Hospital paid for about 20 hotel rooms for employees who came from outside the area. This measure is no longer in force.