Help nurses get access to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder

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Nurses are often one of the first health care professionals to assist in emergency situations, think back to 2003 when the SARS outbreak occurred, or how it feels to work twelve-hour shifts in the emergency department where nurses experience unimaginable circumstances. Nurses are always there to help, but some have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Bill 163 (also known as the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act) enables members of emergency response teams to have access to treatment for PTSD; nurses are still not on the list. Please read this letter to the Premier of Ontario and sign the petition to help nurses who have, or may develop PTSD.

Premier of Ontario,
Honourable Doug Ford

Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON
M7A 1A1

Dear Mr. Ford,

We are a group of third-year nursing students at York University who are aware and concerned about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in nurses who work in emergency departments.  On April 5th, 2016, the Ontario government passed Bill 163, also known as the Supporting Ontario’s First Responders Act. Bill 163 changed the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and functioned as Ontario’s strategy to create a presumption that PTSD in first responders is work-related, which enables access for firefighters, police officers and other members of an emergency response team to worker’s insurance benefits and treatment for the disorder. The change is a big step forward in addressing the mental health of people who put their lives on the line to help others.

Nurses in the emergency department face violence and suffer trauma similar to police officers and paramedics; they can suffer from painful flashbacks, thoughts of suicide, nightmares, anxiety and feelings of guilt. Workplace violence is often underrepresented in nursing because it is assumed to be a part of the job. The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is still waiting for amendments to be implemented that address the needs of nurses who have work-related PTSD; however, the issue remains unaddressed.

As nurses of the future, we urge you, the Premier of Ontario and Labour Minister, Laurie Scott to change Bill 163 so that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act allows nurses access to worker’s insurance benefits and ultimately remove barriers in seeking treatment for PTSD caused by workplace trauma.

Sincerely,

Christine Andraous

Amanda Bailey

Rebecca Dewey

Sara Gervasi

Julia Iaquinta

Raya Korovin

Bilal Qureshi