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Forward, Haggie at odds over Eastern Health changes

Health Minister John Haggie speaks to the media in this file photo.
Health Minister John Haggie speaks to the media in this file photo. - Telegram file photo

Moving registered nurses out of palliative care unit could be sign of things to come, Forward says

Registered Nurses Union president Debbie Forward is worried changes at the L.A Miller Centre could mean less thorough care for patients.

Eastern Health recently announced that instead of having two registered nurses (RN) and one licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the palliative care unit, one of the registered nurses will be replaced with a second LPN.

Forward says the change could affect the level of care provided at the facility.

“The difference between a RN and LPN, to say it in layman’s terms, has got to do with the education level. LPNs have a basic level of nursing education. RNs have an advanced level,” said Forward.

“The concern for RNs right now is they’ll have their own patients they’re assigned to, the more unstable patients. When something happens to the other patients, the RN is going to have to stretch him or herself very thin to be able to respond to those situations.”

Forward says she is worried the change is a sign of more to come from the Department of Health.

“I can’t help but remember the comments made by the deputy minister of health before Christmas, where he publicly said he believes there are duties performed by RNs that could be shifted to LPNs. Weeks later, we were notified this was the direction Eastern Health is taking,” she said.

Health Minister John Haggie says the move isn’t rare across the country and will not affect patient care.

“The changes that Eastern Health has brought in in the palliative care unit are to line up with national best practices. Essentially what it does is it matches the care needs of the residents in the skill sets of the people we have in Eastern Health,” said Haggie.

“There’s no impact to patient care and it really is using people and their skills to the full scope of practices. It’s about that, it’s about lining ourselves up with national best practice.”

Forward says the decision was made as a cost-cutting measure, but Haggie denies cost was the underlying trigger for the move.

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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