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Therapy Services Severely Understaffed

Regina (July 16, 2013) – A recent internal memo from the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region states that physical and occupational therapists are so severely under-staffed: “it is no longer possible to continue to provide service as per standard practice”.

“The internal memo, dated June 28th, is from the Pasqua Hospital, but our information is that similar restrictions are already in place at the Regina General Hospital. Why hasn’t this reduction in patient services been communicated to the public, and why haven’t steps been taken to solve the problem?” Health Sciences President Karen Wasylenko asked.

“The memo says that due to staffing shortages: “priority service will be provided to patients with the most urgent care needs and those requiring discharge planning”, which means many patients who require occupational or physical therapy while in hospital will not receive treatment,” Wasylenko added.

“This unprecedented withdrawal of needed health care services is troubling, since this health region claimed just four months ago, in a Market Supplement Report prepared by the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO), the health employers’ representative, that it had no vacancies among its Occupational Therapists. Did the health region file inaccurate information in that report or was it planning all along to permanently reduce therapy services?” Wasylenko asked.

“Equally troubling, Saskatchewan health regions admitted in another Market Supplement Report prepared by SAHO last September that they were having problems maintaining Physical Therapy services: “several health regions report significant service delivery issues directly attributed to recruitment and retention issues”. That report recommended an increase in the Market Supplement paid to Physical Therapists, but in spite of our repeated efforts to negotiate that new wage rate over the past ten months, SAHO has refused to do so,” Wasylenko charged.

“Health region and SAHO inaction now means that only the most acute, most ill and specially designated post-surgical patients will receive these vital therapy services while in hospital. It is a dire situation. How can the region argue that it is putting patients and their families first?” Wasylenko asked.

“Occupational Therapists are specialized health care professionals that work with individuals who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, socially or emotionally disabling. Physical Therapists are specialized health care professionals who help patients maximize their physical movement and functionality due to injury, illness, or major life events like surgery. The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region needs to be fully accountable for this reduction in these vital health care services,” Wasynlenko concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

Kate Robinson, Communications
Health Sciences Association of Saskatchewan
(306-221-6316)

Attachments:
Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region Internal Memo

Media Articles:
620 CKRM The Source – July 16, 2013
Regina Leader Post – July 16, 2013
Regina Global News – July 16, 2013
Regina CTV News – July 17, 2013 (at 07:15 point in video)
CBC News – July 17, 2013 (at 4:05 point in video)

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