The Town of Maple Creek is to contribute funds to ease the nursing crisis at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility.
The money will go towards incentives and promotional costs of encouraging recruitment for three vacant full-time nursing posts, and one part-time position.
At its September 13 meeting, Maple Creek Town Council agreed to pay up to $5,000.
The funds will be held in trust by the Southwest Trust Board. It is hoped other municipalities will also make contributions.
For months, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has been trying to solve the staffing problems at the healthcare facility. It blames unfilled vacancies on employees bidding on other positions, maternity leave, retirements, resignations and sick leaves.
In July, the SHA said there were shortages of registered nurses and continuing care aids, and in the area of laboratory medicine. Leader Integrated Health Facility was also experiencing significant staffing challenges.
“These challenges may result in the disruption of services at these facilities,” the SHA warned in a statement headed “Key Messages”.
It pledged commitment to fully restoring services in Maple Creek and Leader.
“Current staff in these facilities continue to pick up extra shifts whenever possible. Teams have made extraordinary efforts to try to accommodate time off for their teammates who have had little to no time off.
“We ask that communities are kind and supportive of their healthcare teams during this time.”
The staffing issue was discussed at the August 18 meeting of the Southwest Trust Board, which is made up of representatives of different municipalities, including the Town of Maple Creek, the RM of Maple Creek, the RM of Piapot, RM of Big Stick, RM of Reno, Village of Fox Valley, RM of White Mud, RM of Enterprise, and the Village of Richmound. Members of the Dr. Nobel Irwin Foundation are also on the board.
At last month’s meeting, an update was provided on a housing partnership between the RM of Maple Creek and the Town.
Each municipality has contributed $10,000, for a total of $20,000, to rent and furnish a two-bedroom apartment on 101 Lonsdale Street, to provide housing for nurses.
The meeting heard that the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility is still looking to fill three vacant full-time registered nursing positions, and one part-time position.
Although Dr. Neelandran Naidoo is leaving the Maple Creek Primary Health Care as a family physician, another doctor has been hired.
The board carried a motion that “each member asks their respective municipalities if they would like to contribute up to $5,000 for nursing position incentives and the incurred cost of promotional items for the recruitment of nursing positions at the Southwest Integrated Healthcare Facility. That will be held in trust by the Southwest Trust Board”.
At this month’s Maple Creek Town Council meeting, Councillor Betty Abbott, who attended the trust board meeting, presented the request for a contribution of up to $5,000.
She said there was a need to work on a plan to keep nurses and encourage more nurses to come.
Councillor Tina Cresswell said the community needed to be proactive, and not wait for “something to happen”.
When there was a doctors’ crisis, she said, the municipality stepped up and put money in a fund.
“We need to do the same thing now because it’s the same kind of crisis. If we wait for someone else to solve this problem, we might wait for a long time.”
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, who attended the trust board meeting, also backed a contribution.
She said the SHA was working hard to fill the positions. Although contract nursing provided a temporary solution, it was expensive.
McKenzie pointed out the Town and RM of Maple Creek were working together to provide accommodation for nurses.