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'End hallway nursing': Sask. RNs rally against overcrowding, staff shortages

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About 100 Saskatchewan nurses and supporters rallied outside an overcrowded Saskatoon hospital on Monday, calling for change.

St. Paul’s Hospital recently failed a fire department inspection because of patient overcrowding in hallways.

Bianca Funes, a registered nurse in the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital, said the conditions are creating staff burnout and unsafe conditions for patients.

"Patients have no privacy, no dignity," Funes says.

"We are doing pad changes in the hallways. We have to hold up blankets just to make some sort of wall around their hallway bed."

Olivia Balisky, a registered nurse in St. Paul's emergency department, said there’s about "five to six stretchers lined up in the hallways" on each shift.

"You actually can’t even get into the staff room currently because there's a patient blocking the door — and that’s the start of your day," Balisky said.

Nurses held signs at the rally reading: "End Hallway Nursing," "Patients Deserve Safe Staffing" and "Stop the Band-Aid Fixes."

While speaking with reporters at an unrelated event in Saskatoon, Premier Scott Moe acknowledged Saskatchewan needs more healthcare workers.

“Nurses of all designations ... we need more of them, and I think they would agree with that,” Moe said.

“We’re doing everything we can to recruit and train and retain the nurses that we do have in this province.”

Earlier this month, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced a plan to address overcrowding in Saskatoon's hospitals.

But Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) president Tracy Zambory said the SHA's plan just reroutes staff and doesn’t address the root of the problems.

She questioned the effectiveness of the plan and once again called for a nursing task force to find solutions to the issues in healthcare.

(Laura Woodward/CTV News)

“The message here today is registered nurses have answers and we’re tired of not being listened to,” Zambory said.

The last time SUN met with the Ministry of Health, Zambory says "they just wanted to talk about a positive message" and didn’t want to dig into the "truth" of what’s happening on the frontlines.

“Nurses are done with that. We want to meet. We want to create that nursing task force and we want to get registered nurses back into the system,” Zambory said.

The Saskatoon Fire Department said it will be visiting St. Paul's Hospital this week for a reinspection. 

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