Dissension rising between nurses, LPNs

Union representing LPNs says Nurses Union is instilling fear among the public, demean trained professionals, and creating dissension.
Comments about licensed practical nurse skill levels aren't helping relations between them and registered nurses, says a spokeswoman for the P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees.


In a news release, UPSE president Shelley Ward, who represents LPNs, said comments P.E.I. Nurses' Union President Mona O'Shea made in responses to pending cuts at Prince Edward Home need clarification.


"Mona O'Shea assumes that only RNs are being negatively affected by planning underway by Health P.E.I. concerning the new model of care," Ward said.
The UPSE response came after Health P.E.I. told Prince Edward Home staff changes to the number of RNs would leave 14 working at the long-term care facility.
LPNs and resident care workers would fill any remaining positions.


Ward said it's important to remember the livelihoods of RNs and LPNs will be affected by major changes Health P.E.I. is making to frontline nursing.
"The province is not just losing RN positions; they are also losing LPN positions during this transition as well," she said.
In the news release, Ward disagreed with O'Shea's comments about the LPNs' skill level.


"The president of the Nurses Union has an obligation to represent her members, however, making comments which instill fear among the public, demean trained professionals, and create dissension among nurses is neither productive nor appropriate," Ward said.
Many LPNs acquired or are in the process of acquiring all the educational requirements and skills needed to work professionally, competently and skillfully in long-term care settings, Ward said.


"To say that LPNs do not have the skills or knowledge to do the assessments required in long-term care is simply not true."
Instead, what should concern the public is the fact RNs, LPNs and resident care workers often work short-staffed, Ward said, and she wondered how many of them work with the proper rest between shifts.


"The amount of overtime generated in nursing is unacceptable."
"To say that LPNs do not have the skills or knowledge to do the assessments required in long-term care is simply not true," - UPSE president Shelley Ward
Ward said Pam Trainor, Health P.E.I.'s chair of the collaborative care model committee, noted there could be an increase in health care staffing in the future.
There hasn't been any evidence to show that will happen, Ward said.


"It is true that the level of care given to the patient today has increased, but, there has been no further assistance provided to the front line to help with this change."
In response to the news release, O'Shea said she doesn't have jurisdiction over the LPNs or resident care workers.
"That's totally UPSE so I don't get involved in what positions they have been eliminated or deleted," she said.
O'Shea said she was disappointed by the comments about the nurses' union trying to instill fear in the public, demean trained professionals or create dissension.
"That in no way, shape or form is our intent," she said.


Instead, the goal is to bring the news to the public about what Health P.E.I. is doing to health care, O'Shea said.
She also stood by comments she made about the level of skill or knowledge LPNs have compared to RNs and said they have different levels of training.
"LPNs, they do have skills and knowledge but not to the in-depth detail that the registered nurse has," she said.
O'Shea said there is a place and time for everybody to work in the health-care system, but not if it means eliminating RN positions.
"There's simply not enough registered nurses to begin with and they're still doing away with them."
Saying LPNs, resident care workers and nurses have different levels of skills shouldn't create dissension among the different groups because the relationship has been good, she said.


"Everybody understands the level of knowledge and skills that one does possess so that should not create any animosity amongst the coworkers."