Nurse and doctor shortages continue to plague Prairie Mountain Health, according to a handout delivered by the regional health authority.
In the handout, which is being delivered to community stakeholders during a round of ongoing meetings, summer vacation demands by current nurses will mean several facilities in Westman will be "further compromised."
Listed as at-risk facilities are hospitals in Grandview, Roblin, Hamiota, Carberry, Virden, Melita, Deloraine, Glenboro, Minnedosa and Treherne.
Personal care homes in Dauphin and Elkhorn are also on the list, as well as, the Westman personal care home in Virden.
"The facilities continue to work with Nursing Agencies to assist where needed," the handout states.
"Nursing staff are working hard at covering shifts but are also working overtime. Due to resource challenges over an extended period of time, fatigue is a concern."
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson hosted meetings with several strategic communities yesterday.
"In some of our smaller communities, as we head into the summer season, we have difficulty covering all of the shifts," Gilson said via phone between meetings in Ste. Rose and Dauphin.
A recently graduated nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said she is confused over the authority’s recruiting tactics.
"I applied for what I thought was a nursing job in Brandon only to be told that it was for a small community in Prairie Health," she said. "You would think if they are struggling for nurses that it wouldn’t be difficult to get on."
Gilson said using smaller communities as a feeder for Brandon isn’t a technique the authority employs, but that sometimes it is beneficial for nurses to work in rural areas, where often they can be teamed with an experienced colleague.
"I look at it as another opportunity for our grad nurses," Gilson said, adding that it’s a great way to gain experience, which is something the larger centres are always looking for.
Key physician vacancies also dominate most of the region.
Hamiota, Virden, Russell, Killarney, Swan River, Melita, Minnedosa and Neepawa are all running short at least one doctor, and as many as four in some cases.
A 2011 campaign promise from the NDP committed that every Manitoban who wanted a family doctor would have one by 2015.
Gilson said the Mobile Primary Care Bus, which launched in February, has bridged the gap for many people in remote areas who didn’t have access to a primary caregiver previously.
However, the handout states, "The Family Doctor Connection Program has had 262 registrations to date since inception."
Only 144 have been matched, a success rate of 54.9 per cent in the region.
While the shortages aren’t good for patients, it has had a positive effect on the region’s bottom line.
Prairie Mountain Health is forecasting a year-end surplus of approximately $4 million "due to ongoing significant vacancies in some program/service areas" coupled with some unexpected funding from Manitoba Health.
Despite the surplus, the region is still expected to have a net deficit near $15 million due to past debt.
Three employee groups — facility, community and professional-technical support —are all currently working without contracts.
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 17, 2014