'Immediate need' for nurses at Health Sciences emergency room this weekend, health authority says

·2 min read
Health Sciences Centre in St. John's is the province's largest hospital. It is in immediate need of nurses and care attendants to work this weekend. (Paul Daly/CBC - image credit)
Health Sciences Centre in St. John's is the province's largest hospital. It is in immediate need of nurses and care attendants to work this weekend. (Paul Daly/CBC - image credit)

The province's largest health authority is pleading with staff to work overtime as an overflowing emergency room in St. John's struggles to see patients.

In an internal memo sent to all staff, Eastern Health said there's an immediate need for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and personal care attendants to work additional shifts or overtime at the Health Sciences Centre emergency department this weekend.

The memo said by applying for additional or overtime shifts this weekend, staff acknowledge the demands of the job "may be subject to time pressures/deadlines and subject to lack of control over work pace."

It also said people interested in helping should contact their manager by noon on Friday.

Last weekend Eastern Health said emergency rooms at the Health Sciences Centre and St. Clare's Mercy Hospital in St. John's were under "unprecedented pressures" which were creating long wait times for patients.

They asked people who were not experiencing a medical emergency to consider "alternate options" before going to an ER, so healthcare workers could focus on people with critical medical conditions.

An estimated 125,000 people across Newfoundland and Labrador do not have access to a family doctor or primary care.

Paul Daly/CBC
Paul Daly/CBC

The province's health minister, Tom Osborne, said the department is working to fix problems in the healthcare system,, but there won't be an overnight solution.

Over the Labour Day weekend, eight separate emergency rooms in the province were closed during various times or had virtual emergency appointments due to staffing shortages. Whitbourne, Bonne Bay, Harbour Breton, New-Wes-Valley, Buchans, Lewisporte, Springdale and St. Lawrence were all affected.

Meanwhile, emergency services in the U.S. Memorial Health Centre in St. Lawrence on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula are "temporarily closed due to current human resource challenges."

Eastern Health says the St. Lawrence emergency room will be closed from 8 a.m. NT on Friday until Saturday morning and then close again Saturday evening until Tuesday morning.

The health authority is urging patients who need emergency care to call 911 or go to the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre or the clinic in Grand Bank.

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