Southlake’s Board of Directors has turned down a request by hospital nurses to meet them and hear their concerns for patient safety following the imposition of “team-based nursing” in its Intensive Care Units.  

In a press release earlier this week the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) said they had approached the Board only after twice being denied a meeting with the Chief Executive, Arden Krystal.

The ONA says 96% of registered nurses and registered respiratory nurses had signed a letter asking the Board to hear their concerns for patient safety 

“and to put an immediate stop to the implementation of the model and the hiring of nurses to work in the ICU who have not received training in critical care nursing.”

Serious Risks

The ONA’s warnings are clear and precise. The nurses believe the implementation of the team-based nursing model will result in serious risks to vulnerable, critically ill patients in the ICU.

The ONA says 

“The province only intended team-based nursing to be used as a temporary measure to deal with the patient surge during the pandemic and that other hospitals are not pursuing this unsafe and risky model of care in critical care units.”

Why on earth can’t the hospital meet the nurses and address their concerns, point by point? 

Weekend and Evening Surgery and Burn-out

Meanwhile, the Province has just published its plan to handle the backlog in surgery caused by the pandemic. The plan involves running operating theatres on weekends and in the evenings and expanding the use of private sector clinics. 

A presentation by the Ministry of Health to journalists yesterday acknowledged the problem of burn-out amongst medical staff working round the clock to contain the pandemic. So how does the Province expect burned out medical staff to work weekends and evenings to clear the backlog?

The problem was acknowledged by Southlake’s Chief Executive, Arden Krystal, who told the House of Commons Health Committee on 10 June 2020 that getting staff to work extra hours would be very difficult:

"…  they are pretty burned out. To try to get them to work those extra hours, even if we were funded for it, would be very difficult. Once again, we need to rethink our hospital sector."

That sounds like a cue for introducing the team-based working model.

Let's talk about a new Southlake

Ironically, while Southlake won’t talk to its own nurses they want to talk to us about plans for a new acute hospital. 

Their first virtual Town Hall took place on Tuesday featuring East Gwillimbury Mayor Virginia Hackson and Southlake’s John Marshman. The event was over in half an hour with the moderator reading out five questions from anonymous participants.

I learn the new acute hospital will need 60-80 acres. That is a huge amount of land. Upper Canada Mall and its surrounding car parks is 76 acres so that gives you an idea of the scale of the project.

The Newmarket Town Hall, hosted by the Town’s Mayor, John Taylor, is on 10 August 2021 at 7pm. Just log on to

Southlake is in the Minister of Health's Newmarket-Aurora riding. 

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From Newmarket Today on 28 July 2021: Health Minister unveils $324M surgical recovery plan to clear pandemic backlog.

Update on 4 August 2021: From Newmarket Today: Southlake's Intensive Care Unit plan draws fire of NDP critic, nursing leaders