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Health Unit Nurse Practitioner Cuts Will Impact Patients

Jim Alexander

By Jim Alexander

June 22, 2015

I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), the union representing Nurse Practitioners and other Public Health Nurses who provide services through Porcupine Health Unit for our communities.
This Public Health Unit has made the decision to cut Nurse Practitioners (NPs), negatively impacting public health services and care that residents of Timmins and area receive.
Our highly skilled and dedicated NPs work in prenatal and postnatal services as well as sexual health clinics. In the Healthy Beginnings Program, they provide care, advice and assistance to expectant mothers and newborn babies in the community. The program is now being completely eliminated.
Patients impacted by the cuts include some of our most vulnerable: immigrant families, the marginalized and children at risk of poor developmental outcomes, as well as those with high-risk behaviours, such as drug-addicted pregnant women.
As nurses, we all take our role in advocating for our patients very seriously. With the loss of the NPs and the Healthy Beginnings Program, our medically underserviced community and some of its most vulnerable residents are losing timely access to care.
Women and children will suffer the most from the cuts, which the Health Unit says are due to “budget” concerns. Women and youth will be impacted by planned cuts at the Sexual Health Program. Vital cancer screening will be negatively impacted throughout our district, as will access to reproductive medicine.
As a registered nurse, let me clearly say that the cuts are unacceptable. They will cause adverse health outcomes for mothers and babies, women and youth, and most likely cost the health care system much more in the long-term.

It is incredibly unfortunate that a public health unit, with a foundation of nursing science, has opted to almost completely eliminate the role of NPs. We know and research shows that the extraordinary level of health care that NPs provide to their patients saves the system costs.
We are seeing a dramatic loss of care across Ontario as budget constraints result in nursing cuts in our hospitals, public health units and other sectors. If we don’t all start voicing our objections, we will lose valuable services such as those provided by Porcupine Health Unit that can prevent disease and keep our communities healthy. I urge you to please speak out now and help the community continue to receive the health care we all need and deserve.

Sincerely,

Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN
ONA Provincial President

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