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Former clerk at St. Anthony hospital speaks out about staffing issues

Krista Hillier is a former clerk at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital. She resigned in 2015, feeling she was thrust into a position where she was no longer viewing staff as people but pieces to move around in a system.
Krista Hillier is a former clerk at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital. She resigned in 2015, feeling she was thrust into a position where she was no longer viewing staff as people but pieces to move around in a system. - Contributed
ST. ANTHONY, N.L. —

Krista Hillier isn't a nurse but she's familiar with the staffing challenges at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital as well as anybody.

Hillier was employed at the hospital from 2003-15. She worked as a clerk for nursing services from 2013-15. During this time, she was responsible for the staffing and payroll of up to 160 employees.

Frequently, nurses were working overtime. Sometimes she had to mandate 24-hour shifts.

One weekend, Hillier said she was left with over 50 overtime shifts to fill.

Staff also frequently took on extra workload.

She says this means, if the floors are full and there are patients who require more care, you would book a workload shift because the extra set of hands was needed.

"It’s when the floors are super busy," she told The Northern Pen.

The extra workload cost at Charles S. Curtis remains high. In the year leading up to June 2018 that amount was $99,766, per data supplied by LGH.

The extra workload cost in that period for Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a comparable hospital in the region, was much less at $22,175.

Hillier was even moving staff around into positions they weren't qualified for, because of staff shortages.

"But because you had nobody else to fill in, that was the people you had to move into those positions," she said.

As one example, she says she had booked paramedics for registered nurse shifts.

"That should never have happened," commented Hillier.

Eventually, Hillier resigned from the position as she increasingly felt she was thrust into a position where she was no longer treating workers as people.

"One of the stresses that laid heaviest on me was when I became aware that I wasn’t seeing people as people anymore, I just saw a position that needed to be filled, and an urgency," she said. "And that put me over the edge."

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca


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