UNA pleased with commitment to reopen all long-term care beds in High River

By United Nurses of AlbertaJuly 31, 2013 12:25 (Last updated July 31, 2013 12:33)

For Immediate Release

Contrary to what United Nurses of Alberta members and other employees of the High River General Hospital were clearly told in a staff meetings Monday, the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services now say all long-term care beds at the facility will remain open.

“It really doesn’t matter whether senior managers at the facility gave our members incorrect information or the government has overruled a decision made by AHS, UNA is pleased and relieved that there is now a firm commitment for all the long-term care beds in High River to reopen,” said UNA First Vice-President Bev Dick.

However, UNA stands by its statement yesterday that nurses and other employees were informed by senior Alberta Health Services officials at the meetings on Monday that 35 beds would be closed at the facility. It is UNA’s understanding at this time that 10 alternative care beds used for patients awaiting transfer to long-term care will still be closed. AHS has told us they always intended these to be temporary beds.

“We understand AHS will call another meeting with the hospital’s staff to correct and clarify the statements that were made at Monday’s meeting,” Dick said. “This is a needed and positive response to the present situation.”

In addition, Dick said, UNA has written Health Minister Fred Horne seeking a meeting to clear the air about strong and very troubling statements made by the minister after what senior Alberta Health Services staff told UNA members Monday was reported to the public by the union.

“Mr. Horne is quoted by one publication in the High River area as saying UNA’s statements were ‘completely unfounded,’ complaining that UNA had not contacted his office and further stating ‘we have to take a pretty hard line when people do this sort of thing,’” Dick said. Horne also told the CBC that UNA should have contacted his office.

“With respect, UNA members are employed by Alberta Health Services and the statements accurately reported by UNA were made by senior AHS managers,” she said. “It would be highly unusual and irregular for UNA to seek clarification from the minister’s office every time AHS announces a policy decision.”

Dick said UNA is particularly concerned that Mr. Horne stated in a CBC interview that UNA should retract “their allegations” – which he also dismissed as “rumours” and “speculation” – and apologize.

“We’re offended by the suggestion UNA should apologize for accurately reporting information that was given to our members by senior officials of their employer, Alberta Health Services,” Dick said.

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Related document: Letter from Bev Dick to Health Minister Fred Horne

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