WLMH staff frustrated by pending closures

Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Sam Oosterhoff, WLMH

Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, MPP Sam Oosterhoff and Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton worked the crowd at the WLMH rebuild announcement, but staff are concerned what things will look like if and when the community gets to that stage.

By Mike Williscraft


When NewsNow’s story about the weekend closures at West Lincoln Memorial Hospital hit West Niagara homes last week calls emails, texts and office visits went through the roof.

While the vast majority were from outraged readers, some calls came from WLMH staff who have had enough.

After the Oct. 22 announcement was made, staff were told not to speak to media about WLMH issues, but now many past and present staff feel compelled to address some of the issues due to the extreme circumstance which faces the community, patients and staff.

“I wanted to let you know that as far back as October we reached out to management expressing an interest in supporting our OR colleagues and their difficult call schedule. We requested cross-training to begin as soon as possible, as we predicted a crises in staffing was imminent,” said one nurse.

“Even now, our suggestion is being held up in bureaucratic limbo while they preach risk management, etc. They are offering $30,000 in relocation for out-of-province nurses, when they have a willing workforce right at their fingertips.”

It was noted by several staff, the offer for cross-training has been raised at several points since October, acknowledging there are union issues and other details which would need to be nailed down, but none insurmountable.

A former WLMH staffer, commenting on last week’s story, wrote, “I worked at (West Lincoln) in both the OR and OBS (obstetrics).

“The OR staff has been dwindling away for a long time and staff have either retired or moved on and not been replaced. Now, there is a panic situation. Ironically there is a big initiative to get OR nurses when there are a bunch of nurses in OBS who can be trained to do C sections, which would keep weekends going so that OBS would not be turning away mothers,” noted the former staff member, adding all aspects of staff are affected including family doctors, midwives, obstetricians, general practice doctors and anesthetists.

“Some of them already have C section training and, ironically, if a main OR staff member from the other sites is recruited it is likely they haven’t done a C section.”

Last week, HHS president and CAO reiterated this team is looking at all alternatives.

“We’re looking at a variety of strategies to try to get back to 24/7 coverage and I will be diligent in pursuing those but, as you know, the stubborn fact is we’ve got this national shortage, but we are committed to creating long-term viability for the site (WLMH),” said MacIsaac.

For another staffer, it has been apparent from the start HHS officials are not interested in cross-training OBS nurses.

“The HHS just keeps shutting it down. They have said at a couple of points they would look into it, but nothing has happened. Staff are willing, management is not,” said the staff member.

“There seems to be an interest to divide staff instead of allowing us to come together to help solve this crisis.”

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