Canso group sees progress in nurse recruitment efforts

By Helen Murphy    
January 8 2020

CANSO – With two conditional offers out to prospective nursing hires for Eastern Memorial Hospital, the Canso Stakeholder Working Group is sounding more optimistic these days about finding solutions to the staffing crisis. It's been eight months since a shortage of nurses caused the nighttime closure of Eastern Memorial Hospital.

"I had no idea how long it would take," said co-chair Susan O'Handley in an interview with The Journal Monday.

"I knew it would take a while because everything is a process. But I was maybe hopeful that people would jump into (the opportunity) a little quicker."

Incentives from the NSHA and MODG total $20,000 for any qualified nurse being recruited to the hospital.

In the first few months of the ramped-up recruitment efforts, those incentives were not open to new grads. Eastern Memorial Hospital requires nurses with specialized ER training.

"In the summer when we realized we weren’t really getting the results we wanted, we decided to go and ask the health authority and the municipality if they would consider expanding the offer to new grads as well," said O'Handley. "The approval came in August and that really opened it up a lot better."

If new grads without the needed experience are hired, they will be paired with experienced nurses, she said.

"We are still trying to get experienced nurses and right now there are a couple of conditional offers out there. They are looking quite positive. There is always a process if they are not licensed in Nova Scotia.

One of the candidates is in another province and one is outside of Canada.

"If they have a conditional offer and they are from another country they can get a working visa in the meantime, while they wait for immigration," said O'Handley.

"We are very hopeful that these are going to pan out."

The Working Group is still looking for accommodations for new hires.

"We have one home secured but are looking for other accommodations, so if people out there have homes for rent it would be really nice if they could contact us and let us know."

In addition to the two offers that have been issued, O'Handley said there has been other interest in the positions. She said the Working Group continues to meet and members work well together toward their shared goal of addressing the healthcare staffing shortage.

"The Health Authority has been amazing working with us from day one," she said. "They have bent over backwards to work with us."