Sudbury and North Bay: Layoff a professional, hire a professional

Cuts to nursing positions in Southern Ontario do apparently have a silver lining.

Sudbury’s Health Sciences North says hard times for health care workers in the south are solving some of that hospital’s recruitment problems in the north.

Whereas the hospital normally maintains a vacancy rate for nursing positions of five percent, it has recently dropped to three per cent with new hires. Not only that, but they are having better luck filling allied health positions, including social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropodists, psychologists and speech language pathologists.

Rhonda Watson, VP of Human Resources at the hospital, told Northern Life that the only difficulty they presently have is in recruiting pharmacists.

While Sudbury throws out the welcome mat, North Bay is trying to hold on to their nurses despite coming cuts to jobs at the $550 million P3 hospital opened in January 2011. Yes, those cuts the Ministry continues to deny are taking place across Ontario.

This week the North Bay Regional Health Centre said it plans to reduce its workforce by more than 20 nursing positions. That includes cuts to the recently merged mental health side of the hospital, where nursing jobs are expected to be lost in forensic and concurrent disorders, among other programs. For nurses who wish to remain, there are 39 existing nursing vacancies within the general hospital.

The hospital suggests that the cuts are related to transition funding running out for the Centre. While the vacancies may be good news for the nurses, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for patients who will see an impact from fewer nursing jobs.

While about a quarter of the Sudbury hospital’s workforce will reach retirement age within the next five years, the hospital is surprisingly not that worried given the provincial average is closer to 45.8 per cent according to the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario.

Maybe they should be.

While it is good news Sudbury is able to finally fill positions due to a shortage of jobs in the south, significant numbers of health professional retirements elsewhere could theoretically reverse that trend again. Or so the logic goes.

And when that happens, all these hospitals that are splashing out on severance packages will be spending like drunken sailors to recruit in a few short years.

Gotta love how health human resource planning works in Ontario.

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