Overtime hours increase 77 per cent in Grace Hospital’s critical care unit

New numbers provided by the Manitoba Nurses Union show overtime hours have increased dramatically over the past year at the Grace Hospital.

On average, all the units have seen a rise in overtime of 32 per cent, according to the numbers, which were provided to the union by the Winnipeg Health Authority through a Freedom of Information request.

The critical care unit, which provides intensive care to the most critically ill patients, had the biggest spike in overtime hours at 77 per cent.

The ER at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg is among Grace and St. Boniface Hospitals taking in patients from Seven Oaks and Concordia.

“What I’ve been hearing from nurses is that they’re exhausted, their physiological and physical well-being has been affected,” said MNU president Darlene Jackson.

The union blamed the increase on patients who can no longer go to the Victoria General Hospital since it was converted into an urgent care centre.

“It’s really disturbing that the employers haven’t done anything to mitigate this,” said Jackson.

In Phase Two of the province’s overhaul of the health system, ER patients from Concordia and Seven Oaks Hospitals will also be making their way to the Grace.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Chief Operation Officer Lori Lamont says more resources will follow.

“It’s not that we’re expecting existing staff at the Grace to pick up more of the work,” she said.

“We will, in fact, be moving staff along with the patient activity.”

By the end of September, more than 19,000 total overtime hours were logged at the Grace in 2018.

That’s compared to 14,000 in all of last year.

“If we’re already seeing this type of overtime in Critical and ER, Phase Two is just going to make this worse,” Jackson said.

Phase Two will continue as planned and portions of other emergency rooms will be fully settled into the Grace Hospital by fall of next year, said Lamont.

“While we’re concerned about overtime and we continue to monitor, we don’t believe it’s directly related to the consolidation,” said Lamont.

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