Staffing in the smaller long-term care sites remains a challenge for the Sun Country Health Region. Marga Cugnet, CEO of Sun Country, presented an operational report to trustees during their monthly board meeting on Wednesday.
“The shortage of professional nursing staff (RNs) continues to present challenges in the provision of 24-hour coverage,” said Cugnet. “Legislation requires that if an RN is not on site, then an RN must be on call and available to respond.”
The Sun Country Health Region has three rural acute care sites that remain closed. The Kipling Memorial Health Centre was closed in October, 2012; the Arcola Health Centre was closed in December, 2012; and the Redvers Health Centre was closed in December, 2009.
“There is growing pressure to stabilize services, as the Weyburn and Estevan sites are beginning to see more and more patients from the rural sites,” said Cugnet.
In regard to recruitment and retention, Sun Country was able to acquire new hires into “difficult-to-fill” positions from Dec. 17, 2012 to Jan. 22, 2013. This includes five RNs, four LPNs and two out-of-scope. During that same period, there were resignations of six RNs, four LPNs, one mental health therapist and one out-of-scope.
Currently, Sun Country has six physicians sitting with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan in various stages. This includes two for Weyburn, one for Arcola, one for Oxbow, one for Estevan and one for Kipling.
The anticipated start for each of these physicians is April.
There was also a meeting held with Ed Mantler, the CEO of SaskDocs, and the Sun Country recruitment team regarding multiple aspects of the recruitment of physicians and the challenges being encountered.
The Sun Country Health Region continues to offer clinical placements for students, primarily in nursing programs. Four student nurses started clinical placements in January.
Also, the mentorship program of Sun Country is being expanded from a RN-focus to include all new regional hires. This development is in the early stages, which means a policy is to be developed, and resources and capacity requirements of this expansion are yet to be assessed.
The Sun Country board, along with members of the executive team, participated in a “Wall Walk” during the meeting, where they learned of different achievements for the region.
It was reported that Sun Country is on target for primary health care. Their goal is to see a 25 per cent improvement in the number of people who say, “I can see my Primary Health Care Team on my day of choice” by March 31, 2013.
The health region is also on target for their COPD collaborative, with clinics now open in both Estevan and Weyburn.
It was reported that the health region was on target in regards to fall prevention. Their goal is to reduce the numbers of falls causing injury by five per cent in long-term care by March, 2013.
There are also improvements for Lean health care in the health region. Sun Country has Lean champions who lead improvement teams in their areas. The region currently has 57 staff trained in Lean Training Flight 201, and will be offering additional training during April and May of 2013.
Also during the Sun Country board meeting, trustees heard that each ambulance within the Sun Country Health Region will soon be equipped with an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) transponder. This will allow Central Dispatch to know at any given moment where each ambulance is, which could improve response time.
The cost per unit to install is approximately $1,000, which will be covered by the Sun Country Health Region and the monthly operating cost is to be covered by the Ministry of Health.