Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Vitalité Health working to phase out travel nurses

By Brad Perry Feb 26, 2024 | 4:42 AM

The CEO of Vitalité Health says it could be two more years before they phase out the use of travel nurses entirely.

Dr. France Desrosiers defended the costly and controversial use of travel nurses in a statement release last week.

“Like many other health care organizations in Canada, Vitalité Health Network made the decision to use agency staff to ensure the continuity of patient care in its facilities,” Desrosiers said in the statement.

“Although costly, it remains a vital ethical decision for our network, whose purpose is to foster the health of our patients and communities, today and tomorrow.”

An investigation by the Globe and Mail found the health authority signed two agreements with Canadian Health Labs worth up to $138 million.

It found the company is charging Vitalité rates that work out to $300 per hour, much higher than other agencies and what local nurses earn.

Desrosiers said the health authority faced a “critical” situation in 2022, to the point where emergency department and even facility closures were imminent.

Only a “very limited number” of agencies were able to provide the French or bilingual resources needed in a timely manner, she said.

“In retrospect, we need only think of the hundreds of lives that have been saved thanks to the support of agency staff and our own staff in maintaining dialysis treatment, emergency departments and other essential services, for example, to confirm that this decision was the right one,” said Desrosiers.

Using agency staff is not a “perfect solution,” said Desrosiers, which is why the health authority has begun a gradual reduction of agency services.

She said recruitment and retention efforts are working, with the number of new hires exceeding the number of departures since June 2022.

But Desrosiers noted it would be “impossible to do without [travel nurses] completely right now, given the immediate needs that are still as great as they were in 2022.”

She said they are looking to fully phase out the use of agency services by winter 2026 while also looking at ways to prevent their use in the future.