CUPE Local 5430 took a stand against bed closures at Parkland Integrated Health Center in Shellbrook, the Premier’s home community, where half of the acute beds were shut down on May 20, 2022 due to short staffing.
“With beds being closed these communities are now having to travel further for care and to see loved ones. We believe this is adding an extra hardship to the elderly, as most of the communities have a large group of elderly people living in their towns, who rely on the Shellbrook facility,” said. Sharon Paul, General Vice-President for Region 2. “Even before the bed closures happened the facility is often on bypass – which means beds are full and new patients can not be accepted. This means patients seeking care would have to travel further for care. And delays could be deadly.”
It started as a closure of five beds out of 20. But since May 20, ten beds have been closed. The union has been told that five of the bed closures are temporary to cover holidays, and that they plan for a phased increase to beds in July.
“We are in the midst of a recruitment and retention issue in rural Saskatchewan. And unless steps are taken to improve working conditions in health care, I am afraid for the future of care in Shellbrook. And I am afraid for my family members who live in the service area. Where will they go when these beds are filled? What will happen when they need lab tests, and samples have to be sent to Saskatoon. What will happen when they need an X-ray and we have no X-ray techs?” added Paul.
Like health care facilities across the province, Shellbrook is seriously short staffed in all areas, including lab, CCAs, LPNs and diagnostic services. This is having an impact on service levels across the board. We know that there are dozens of rural communities facing service disruptions right now which are listed on the Sask. Health Authority website.
“The north relies on Shellbrook. It is not enough just to have buildings. We need to invest in health care personal,” said Paul. “CUPE Local 5430 will continue to draw attention to the situation in Shellbrook, and to call for measures to address recruitment and retention issues in rural Saskatchewan and beyond.