Bit by bit, our province is re-opening. While we have not seen a large number of COVID-19 cases, the pandemic is affecting us and the entire health care sector in a significant way.
As nurses, we know the pandemic is far from over. Meanwhile, many of you have been working short-staffed over the past several months, increasing your level of stress. Across the province, there is a vacancy of more than 100 registered nurse positions, which, for a nursing complement of just over 1200, is a very high vacancy rate.
Most alarmingly, the nursing shortage is making it difficult for some of you to get time off from work – some of you have reported that your summer vacations are being cancelled or have not even been approved yet. This is unacceptable – and frankly, it’s counter-productive.
Islanders know that the summer is precious – but getting a vacation isn’t just a luxury. Even under normal circumstances, we know that vacation is essential for supporting our mental and physical well-being; we are more productive, we have higher job satisfaction, and, ultimately, it reduces turnover.
As you know, a health care worker at Queen Elizabeth Hospital recently tested positive for COVID-19. This incident reminds us that we simply can’t let our guard down. Our fight to stem the spread of this virus is far from over; please stay alert and protect yourselves.
You are the front lines of our health care system. We need you to be strong – and to be able to do that, you need to have some time off to recharge. Your vacation needs to be a priority. If for any reason your vacation has been cancelled, denied, or not yet approved, we need to hear from you!
Now more than ever, we need to take care of ourselves and each other. If you or one of your colleagues are experiencing psychological distress, please reach out and talk to someone; a family member or friend, a trusted colleague, your manager, a local union representative or even someone here at the PEINU office can offer you some support.
You are not alone.
The Employee and Family Assistance Program is also available to provide you with professional and confidential assistance.
We know that you are giving your best every single day, every shift you work – not only providing the safe, quality care that patients need, but also the compassion and kindness that are so crucial to lifting the spirits of the sick, the injured and their families.
Your strength continues to be an inspiration to all Islanders – myself included – and for this, I offer my deepest heartfelt thanks.
Stay strong. Stay safe. And take care of yourselves, and each other.
Have a safe, happy and enjoyable summer.
President PEI Nurses Union.