COVID-19 Information for UNA Members Deployed to Unfamiliar Work Areas or Caring for Off-Service Patients

The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) were developed to provide general guidance and resources to UNA members who are being deployed to unfamiliar work areas, who are being asked to care for off-service patients, or are encountering other nursing practice/professional responsibility issues while working during the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta.

For any other questions or concerns, contact your UNA Local or UNA Provincial Office (Phone: 1-800-252-9394; Email: ProvincialOffice@una.ca).

Note:

  • UNA has already developed a general FAQ for COVID-19 (with information on PPE, Self-Isolation, Testing, Return to Work, Time Coding, Sick Leave, Vacations and Mandating, and Accommodations).

I am being redeployed to an area and/or being asked to take care of patient(s) (e.g. off-service patients) but I don’t feel like I have the necessary knowledge and skills to do so safely and ethically. What should I do?

  • You have a fundamental duty to provide safe, competent, and ethical nursing care as per your Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
  • Your Employer has an obligation to provide the necessary organizational supports (including orientation and training) for you to provide safe, competent, and ethical nursing care.
  • Using your professional judgment, if you don’t feel you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and/or organizational supports to provide safe/competent/ethical nursing care, you must speak up, and identify this concern immediately to your supervisor/manager.
  • The discussion with your manager/supervisor may include a collaborative discussion of the following:
    • Identifying specifically what skills, knowledge, and/or organizational supports you don’t feel you have to practice safely and ethically.
    • Clarifying the expectations of your manager/employer in terms of what you are being asked to do.
    • Asking for additional orientation or training to address your knowledge and skills gaps. Article 11.03 of the UNA Provincial Collective Agreement states: “A request by an Employee for additional orientation shall not be unreasonably denied.”
    • Asking for the additional organizational supports you feel you need to practice safely. Examples may include asking for:
      • Additional staffing
      • Reassignment of patients
      • Access to a buddy/mentor nurse
      • Clinical Nurse Educator support
      • Supplies/medications readily available for off-service patients
      • On-call manager/resource supports clearly identified
      • List of on-call medical residents and attending physicians for off-service patients
      • Readily available access to relevant employer policies, procedures, and guidance documents.

I have discussed my concerns with my manager and I still feel as if I am being asked to provide care without the necessary skills, training, and organizational supports to do so safely and ethically. What should I do now?

  • Consider having additional discussion with your supervisor/manager or escalating the issue to a more senior manager/director.
  • Discussing/collaborating with your colleagues on your unit to determine how best to provide and organize care in order to provide safe and ethical nursing care based on everyone’s individual competency.
  • Document your concerns through the following mechanisms:
    • For patient safety concerns, complete all of the following:
      • Reporting and Learning System (RLS) (for AHS and Covenant Health Employees) report.
      • UNA Professional Responsibility Concern (PRC) Form. You can fill out a paper PRC Form or you may fill out the PRC form electronically on the UNA app and online.
      • When completing a PRC form, please include contact information so that UNA can connect with you as soon as possible.
    • For concerns about your safety, complete all of the following:
      • MySafetyNet (MSN) (for AHS Employees) report.
      • For Covenant Health call the Employer Incident/Injury Reporting Line at 780-342-8070 (Edmonton Area) or 1-855-342-8070.
      • UNA Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) form or you may fill out the OHS Form electronically on the UNA app and online.
      • When completing an OHS form, please include contact information so that UNA can connect with you as soon as possible.
    • Contact your Local or UNA Provincial Office (Phone: 1-800-252-9294; Email: ProvincialOffice@una.ca).
    • Consider your Right to Refuse dangerous work, if you are concerned about your own safety. There are certain obligations you must meet to exercise this right, which can be reviewed here.
    • The CNA Code of Ethics recognizes that “there may be circumstances in which it is acceptable for a nurse to withdraw from providing care or to refuse to provide care. Unreasonable burden is a concept raised in relation to the duty to provide care and withdrawing from or refusing to provide care. An unreasonable burden may exist when a nurse’s ability to provide safe care and meet professional standards of practice is compromised by unreasonable expectations, lack of resources or ongoing threats to personal and family well-being.”

What are the expectations of my regulatory college (i.e. CARNA, CRPNA, CLPNA) during a pandemic?

What are some of the legal considerations when nursing in a pandemic?

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