Nurses and healthcare workers across the province continue to struggle with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as many of us outside of the profession live pandemic free.
For two years the main topic of conversation everywhere you looked was the virus, as it changed and mutated, we followed it closely as a society to determine our next steps.
As restrictions were lifted, we eased back into normal life around the province. Masks became optional and vaccines against the virus are no longer mandatory, but COVID-19 is still relevant in healthcare settings.
Nurses continue to retire early, leave the profession or even the province, due to the struggles that health care workers face every day. Tracy Zambory, President of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, says the staff shortages are a huge issue.
“We have at minimum 600 vacancies and we have at least an eight per cent vacancy rate,” says Zambory. “People are choosing to leave due to the treatment they received over the last two years and the lack of respect for our professional knowledge.”
Emergency rooms in larger centers are seeing some of the worst of the nursing shortage. “We know that on any given weekend in Saskatoon in the emergency rooms there could be 200 vacant shifts,” says Zambory.
Many rural facilities have had to go on bypass, meaning they cannot offer care due to the lack of staff available, meaning many Saskatchewan residents would have to travel to different communities to receive healthcare.
The pressure hasn’t let up for nurses, and it won't for the foreseeable future as the province tackles an excess of over 40,000 procedures that were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.
Zambory says speaking with your MLAs about healthcare concerns is a good first step to take. She also says treating health care workers with respect can go a long way as they are struggling to keep up with demands.