Home Featured Vacations on hold for rural hospital nurses in P.E.I. as HR tries to fill positions

Vacations on hold for rural hospital nurses in P.E.I. as HR tries to fill positions

by Local Journalism Initiative
0 comment

Health PEI has been unable to approve Kings County Memorial and Souris Hospital nurses’ vacations by an agreed deadline.

HPEI’s Human Resources Department is searching for five travel nurses to cover 4.8 full-time equivalent positions at KCMH for the summer, Tara Roche, Health PEI’s director of Community Hospitals East, said. In Souris the request is for three travel nurses to fill 3.1 full-time positions.

“I feel quite confident we will be able to grant it,” Ms Roche said.

This is the second year the hospitals have used travel nurses in this capacity.

“This is not what I want to have to do,” Ms Roche said.

Ms Roche worked for 20 years as an RN prior to taking on leadership roles with HPEI.

As of May 22, Ms Roche confirmed, both hospitals were approved to use travel nurses to cover vacancies and vacation requests through the summer.

Ms Roche said the HR department had also notified her of one signed agreement with a travel nurse interested in working for three months straight.

Not acceptable: Union

But PEI Nurses Union President Barb Brookins said, failing to meet the agreed deadline to notify nurses is not acceptable.

“It’s quite insulting,” she said.

Every RN and NP employed by Health PEI is eligible to take at least two weeks of summer vacation between June and September, according to collective agreements.

Nurses are required to submit their requests by March 1 and Health PEI was obliged to notify staff of an approved schedule by May 15th.

This allows nurses time to plan, said Ms Brookins, who noted, the summer vacation dates begin as early as June 15.

The health authority should have been working to secure travel nurses months ago, said Ms Brookins, given they know current and expected vacancies.

“It seems a little late to the party,” she said.

Ms Roche agrees it would have been ideal for contracts with travel nurses to have been settled earlier.

Finding accommodation a challenge

But she also acknowledges challenges her HR colleagues face in the process.

There are no travel nurse agencies based on PEI and finding accommodation can be a challenge, she said.

Both Ms Brookins and Ms Roche said relying on travel nurses is not a preferred long-term staffing shortage solution but agree if the nurses will accommodate vacations this year they are the best option for now.

Ms Roche said, overall, vacancies fluctuate, she said, but they have reduced by about half since last year when KCMH projected a 60 per cent vacancy rate. Today she is looking at a reduced rate which is holding closer to 30 per cent.

By Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

You may also like

About Us

HR News Canada is an independent source of workplace news for human resources professionals, managers, and business leaders. Published by North Wall Media.