Manitoba’s respiratory therapist staffing shortage at crisis level

On Friday, the union said Concordia Hospital is operating with less than half the respiratory therapy staff it should have, which is leaving the current staff scrambling.

“The situation that’s happening right now at Concordia is perfectly illustrative of the crisis right now,” said Bob Moroz, president of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals.

According to Moroz, Concordia Hospital in Winnipeg is operating with 2.5 equivalent full-time respiratory therapists.

This is well below the minimum baseline of 5.2.

Moroz said this is causing some staff at the hospital, which runs 24/7, to take back-to-back 12-hour shifts. Respiratory therapists are also being denied breaks.

“It is absolutely unsustainable, not only for the facility, but it’s devastating for those respiratory therapists trying their best just to keep their head above water,” Moroz said.

The Winnipeg Regional Health (WRHA) authority told CTV News Winnipeg there’s a respiratory therapy staffing shortage across the province, and it’s aggressively recruiting.

“Work is underway to fill as many shifts as possible so that patient needs are being addressed. Respiratory therapists across the province are coming together to fill shifts at all WRHA sites,” the WRHA said.

Moroz said what’s needed is an immediate and dedicated plan for investing in training, hiring and keeping the respiratory therapists we have.

“We’re worried more people are going to leave the profession because they are so burnt out,” Moroz said.

“So we absolutely need more support from government and we’re hopeful this budget that’ll be announced soon will start to make some real commitments.”

The WRHA said the current vacancy rate for respiratory therapists across all WRHA sites and Health Sciences Centre is 21.8 per cent.

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