Ottawa hospitals offering financial incentives to attract nurses

The main entrance of Ottawa's Queensway Carleton Hospital in seen in this undated photo. (CTV News Ottawa)

The Queensway Carleton Hospital is hoping a financial incentive will attract retired, unemployed and out of province nurses to work in its emergency department, as it deals with a significant nursing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's one of several hospitals in Ottawa looking to hire new staff as the pandemic continues. The Ottawa Hospital is also hoping financial incentives will attract nurses to work at its campuses.

There are currently over 60 full-time and part-time nursing jobs available at the Queensway Carleton Hospital, including close to 20 full-time positions in the emergency department.

In a statement on Twitter, the Queensway Carleton Hospital advertised it's hiring Registered Nurses for its emergency department.

"You may be eligible for a $10,000 signing bonus," said QCH on Twitter.

Our Emergency Department is hiring permanent and temporary RNs! You're a critical thinker with the desire to practice full-scope nursing in a fast-paced, team-oriented environment. Parking onsite. You may be eligible for a $10,000 signing bonus. Join QCH: https://t.co/PsJW2h89JM pic.twitter.com/BwbpCqgH5k

— Queensway Carleton Hospital and Foundation (@QCHOttawa) June 10, 2021

In an interview with CTVNewsOttawa.ca, QCH vice-president of people, performance improvement and diagnostic services Greg Hedgecoe said the hospital is taking advantage of new Ontario government incentives to reactivate retired or unemployed nurses, or recruit nurses from other provinces.

"We have a nursing workforce shortage in the province and our nurses have been providing essential support for quite some time, and so we need to support them with reactivating or recruiting from outside of province," said Hedgecoe.

Hedgecoe says the signing bonus is not available for new nurses out of schools, only for nurses with experience.

"There are several retired, but still highly competent nurses and it's an incentive to try and bring them back to the workforce, or attract nurses from other provinces to Ontario to help us with our critical staffing challenges," said Hedgecoe.

One of the programs launched by the Ontario government is the Community Commitment Program for Nurses, a temporary initiative to attract nurses.

"It's aiming to reactivate retired or unemployed nurses, and support out-of-province recruitment with a $10,000 incentive in exchange for a 12-month commitment," said Hedgecoe.

"The province also offers additional recruitment incentives to eligible hospitals who are funded to open new critical care beds in response to COVID, and that includes financial incentives similar to reactivate retired or unemployed nurses or recruit nurses from out of province."

The Queensway Carleton Hospital is hoping to have the new nurses in place by September.

"There is a significant nursing shortage at our hospital and regionally," said Hedgecoe.

"But thanks to the commitment and caring nature of all of our professionals they're doing everything that they can to maintain essential health care services to our community. But they're getting tired."

The Queensway Carleton Hospital serves more than 500,000 people each year.  There are 2,500 people working at the hospital.

"The QCH has been named the number one hospital by Newsweek Magazine in 2021, and as a top employer in Canada by Forbes magazine," said Hedgecoe.

"It's a great culture, an amazing team of caring professionals. We provide exceptional care to our community, if you're looking for work we'd love to have you."

NURSING SHORTAGE ACROSS OTTAWA

The Queensway Carleton Hospital is not the only hospital dealing with a nursing shortage.

The Ottawa Hospital has 118 nursing positions listed on its website, while there are more than 40 openings at the Bruyere Hospital.

The Ottawa Hospital has been actively working to recruit nurses and other frontline positions throughout the pandemic, they are also participating in the cash incentive.

Ottawa's largest hospital also launched a program to train new resident support aids, to support long-term care homes and are launching another provincially funded program to bring in clinical extern nursing and other clinical students.

In March, there were as many as 1,000 job vacancies across 19 hospitals in the Ottawa region. Since November, nearly 1,900 nurses have been hired. More than 550 jobs have been filled at the Queensway Carleton Hospital since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Carolyn Inglis is a registered nurse. She has worked in the emergency department at the QCH for 11 years and says it’s a great work culture.

"We are happy to have more people join our team and get to experience what we experience here," says Inglis. "It’s wonderful we work as a team and everybody supports one another and we keep learning as a group and there’s lots of opportunities you can explore in the hospital."

There are more than 1,000 health care related jobs at www.ottawahealthcareers.ca.