Public health nurses working for the the health unit in the Corporation of Norfolk County in Ontario say they are deeply concerned with the impact on the community of the decision to close health and social services offices between Christmas and New Year's, 2013.
Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) president Linda Haslam-Stroud said closing the health unit leaves vulnerable residents with no support during a traditionally difficult time of year for new mothers and babies and those suffering from mental illness.
"Saving money at the expense of the health and well-being of the community is simply outrageous," she said. "Our nurses in their role as advocates for the community have proposed several other options, including having just a skeletal staff of nurses working in a few key areas such as the Healthy Babies/Healthy Children program, but the county has outright refused to compromise. Our clients and the entire community deserve better than this."
The public health nurses want to continue to work to ensure that the clients who need their skills and expertise can access them throughout the year, said ONA.
"Christmas can be a very sad, depressing time of year for some folks," said Haslam-Stroud. "The season can trigger serious depression and thoughts of suicide. The proposed closure would see the health and social services offices closed for six straight days, leaving this vulnerable population with one more door closed to them. The costs of a six-day closure will be borne by our clients and it's just a short-term solution to save money."
Haslam-Stroud is urging residents to voice their disapproval to county councilors and the provincial government.
"Depression, newborns and even disease outbreaks don't consult a calendar," said Haslam-Stroud. "Public health nurses are there for good reason — to monitor and protect the communities they serve."
ONA is the union representing 60,000 front-line registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.