Message from the UNA Local 115 Executive (Feb 2011)

Message from Treasurer Cameron Westhead

Money Talks…Duckett Walks
It’s a new year, and there’s a “new” plan to fix our crumbling health care system. According to a recent article in the Edmonton Journal, the nascent Over Capacity Protocols are being used on a daily basis in many hospitals. Unfortunately, most UNA members are all too familiar with Over Capacity; this is not news to us. Caring for patients in hallways, near fire exits, and in over crowded ward rooms has been the status quo for years in Alberta. Hallway nursing is so commonplace that the former Cal-gary Health Region created posters with the title “Hallway or Private Room, Our First Priority is Your Health.” Now AHS has re-badged this poster.

What the posters don’t admit is that hallway nursing puts patients and staff at increased risk. Receiving patient care units are usually short staffed to begin with, and cannot augment to handle the increased workload. A fire in one over capacity bed at FMC led to injuries to staff and patients because the makeshift curtains blocked the activation of the sprinkler system. Clearly, over capacity spaces are not well suited for the safe, quality patient care Albertans deserve.

The Local 115 Executive has worked hard over the past year to eliminate over capacity beds. We have been successful at shutting down 11 of 65 beds, some of which were blocking fire exits or had no readily available resuscitation equipment like suction and oxygen. We rely on all UNA members to identify situations where patient care is jeopardized in any way by filing PRC reports. Similarly, members can file OH&S reports if they feel their personal safety is at risk due to blocked hallways etc. Local 115 is always looking for members to get involved with PRC and OH&S committees, so call the office for more information. Both the PRC and OH&S reports are powerful tools for change and are available on the UNA website or by contacting the Local office. These committees meet regularly and if issues are not resolved to your satisfaction they can be escalated all the way to the CEO.

Speaking of CEOs, we have exported our Cookie Eating Officer Stephen Duckett back to Australia. In his farewell speech, Duckett openly criticized the Tory government’s management of health care over the last decade. During this period, he stated, Alberta reduced its per capita spending on non-acute facilities, creating a backlog of seniors in acute care beds leading to in-creased wait times in the ED. Now health care professionals are left to deal with the fallout this inept government has created.

Many would argue that Duckett’s cookie incident did not warrant his dismissal. We are left to wonder if it was worth it to him to enjoy one last boardroom baked good. As far as I’m concerned, the only cookie fiasco worth getting fired for is a TimTam Slam. Coincidentally, TimTams are Australian chocolate covered wafer cookies. To enjoy a TimTam Slam for yourself, take a small bite off each end of the cookie, drink a hot beverage through the it like a straw, then pop the whole hot, molten mess in your mouth; now you have a good reason not to talk to the media.

In Solidarity,

Cameron Westhead
Treasurer, UNA Local 115
Ph: 403-670-9960 Fax: 403-263-2908
e-mail: cwesthead@una.ab.ca

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