Jill Ross, ONA
A primary nurse, Jill currently works in the ambulatory oncology unit. She also works in the “stretcher bay” where a lot of procedures are undertaken to look after patients coming from other facilities. Jill has worked in pediatrics for about 12 years, the ICU and CCU as well as in-home nursing care in the community.
After 34 years of nursing, what keeps Jill Ross motivated as an oncology nurse for southwestern Ontario’s London Health Sciences Centre?
“I love the patients. They have such hope and are very brave,” says Ross. Ross cites the opportunity to learn and ability to lead and make decisions around her patients’ care as some of the most rewarding aspects of her work.
“Currently, the position I have allows for a lot of autonomy. And oncology is such an interesting disease site. I really love palliative patients and what you can provide for their families. It gives me a lot of satisfaction,” says Ross.
Ross says the relationship between staff and management at her facility hasn’t always been positive. Several years ago, Ross’s hospital saw an increase in safety issues on inpatient mental health units, where nurses were at risk of injury from violent patients.
Although the nurses had taken their issues forward, they weren’t getting very far – until the day an orderly was nearly strangled by a violent patient. A nurse saved the orderly from death.
“We went to the media to publicize our concerns, and for months tried to get safety improvements. But we had to start really tracking incidents and getting nurses to report episodes of violence,” says Ross. “Our new Chief Operating Officer recognized the gaps and organized a Violence Prevention Committee and a Health Organization Team – HOT. He made sure ONA members were on the committees, along with other union reps. He understood we had a big problem. He began calling every employee that had been assaulted, verbally abused or whatever, and he called every nurse. He found out nurses were not only physically hurt, but were questioning their skill as nurses. That was profound for him.”
Ross says the nurses are coming forward a lot more now to report violent incidents or problems.
“We’ve done a lot of educating and more and more occurrence reports are coming in. We have about 90 to 100 incident reports a month, including injuries, and most of them involve nursing,” says Ross.
There are also trained ONA health and safety reps on site, as well as a Professional Responsibility Committee of ONA members.
“With 200 vacancies at my facility, workload is a problem. We see a lot of overtime and sickness,” said Ross. “I think our HOT Team will be very helpful in that regard.”