Nursing station closed
Refusing all but emergencies

Andrea Cnudde
Northern News Services

NNSL (July 19/99) - The nursing station in Clyde River closed its doors to the public for a few days last week, refusing all but emergencies.

Due to a combination of a nursing staff shortage, a rise in the number of after-hour emergencies and an increase in the number of babies being born, the overworked station needs some time to catch its breath.

The community of 760 people also has nearly 40 expectant mothers right now and, in what should be a three-nurse community, the two nurses in Clyde River are exhausted.

"Both of us need to catch up on rest" acting nurse in charge Sherry Devos said, adding, "We will see emergencies, of course."

While the station is closed, Devos said, the two nurses plan to alternate rest breaks during the day.

"We also need to order medication and catch up on paperwork," she added.

Devos attributed the increase in the number of after-hour emergencies to several things.

"An increase in the population means more babies and, with the long days, more kids are playing out longer, therefore more cuts to sew up."

Devos hopes these few days will give the nurses the time they need to catch up on sleep and work.

"We'll close Thursday and Friday and then just see how it goes," said Devos.

Dennis Patterson, chairperson of the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services Board supports the decision.

"This happens all the time, it's kind of routine," he said. "The nurses work flat out, late hours and often through the night.

"It's not a frivolous decision."

Patterson says the board recognizes the toll that the "chronic nursing shortage" takes on these nurses.

"These decisions aren't made in isolation," he said, "We provide the maximum support possible. The challenge is to manage our front-line workers' time as effectively as we can."

If that means closing the stations for a few days to give the nurses a chance to rest and catch up, he said, the health board condones that decision.