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Guelph General intensifies recruitment efforts to fill 67 vacant nursing positions

8.5 per cent of the hospital's nursing positions are currently unfilled
20210420 Guelph General Hospital ICU KA 14
Nurses have been under increased strain during the pandemic. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday file photo

Guelph General Hospital is ramping up recruitment efforts as Ontario grapples with a shortage of nurses.

Those efforts include the hospital's first virtual job fair next month.

Hospital administrators are looking to fill 67 nursing positions at Guelph General, said Geoff Wood, director of human resources, organizational development and employee health services.

While some of those positions are newly created “to be better prepared for the future,” the hospitals’ vacancy rate for nursing positions of 8.5 per cent is "the highest we’ve had in a number of years,” said Wood. 

Several factors have contributed to the nursing shortage Ontario is currently experiencing, but “I think the pandemic has rushed things,” Wood explained. 

“We expected that older nurses would be retiring, but we did anticipate prior to the pandemic that some of them would be staying on a little longer,” he said. “That’s not been the case.”

The stress nurses have faced during the fight against COVID-19 has also led some of them to look for careers outside the profession, said Wood. 

In response, Guelph General Hospital has recently established a workforce planning group to coordinate recruitment efforts. 

“That group is made up of members of our leadership team and the sole purpose is to develop and implement solutions to the staffing difficulties we’re facing,” said Wood. 

Initiatives include an ICU internship program designed to give nurses already working at the hospital the opportunity to acquire skills to work in the specialized area. The “rapid recruitment” of additional personal support workers is also underway. 

The hospital’s first ever virtual job fair for registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs) is planned for Nov. 12. Guelph General is also upping its recruitment efforts on social media and at local nursing schools. 

Additionally, several part-time nursing positions have been changed to full time to make them more attractive to applicants, Wood said. 

Asked about the impact unfilled nursing positions would have on patient care, Wood said the hospital “will not let patient care suffer.”

“We’ve always worked out a way to deliver high quality patient care at any given time,” Wood said. “Would additional nursing staff be helpful? Absolutely. But I don’t think there has been a time when patient care has been compromised.”

Meanwhile at Queen’s Park on Tuesday Guelph Green MPP Mike Schreiner placed the blame for the nursing shortage squarely on Doug Ford's shoulders.

“Doug Ford’s refusal to improve working conditions and pay for nurses has led to a health care staffing crisis," said Schreiner. 

“According to the Ontario Nurses' Association, Ontario hospitals currently face an 18 to 20 per cent vacancy rate for nursing positions,” Schreiner said. “Yet Doug Ford is sitting idly, turning a blind eye, and doubling down on backwards legislation like Bill 124.”

Schreiner called on Ford to repeal Bill 124 which limits pay increases for public sector workers including nurses, and implement a program to pay all nurses an additional $5 an hour if they are working on a short-staffed unit. Schreiner also wants to see guaranteed access to mental health services for all nurses, permanent pandemic pay, and the provision of N95 respirators among other measures. 



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Alison Sandstrom

About the Author: Alison Sandstrom

Alison Sandstrom is a staff reporter for GuelphToday
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