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Coronavirus: Ontario lab technicians grapple with burnout and demand more funding from province


TORONTO – While demand for COVID-19 testing in Ontario remains high, lab technicians in limited-staffed medical laboratories are struggling with burnout and struggling to keep pace.

“This is a critical time for us to say that you need help immediately,” Ontario Association of Medical Laboratory Professionals CEO Michelle Hoad told CTV News Channel on Saturday. “I think it’s time to say, ‘Enough is enough. We need help.'”

Hoad says 92 percent of lab technicians are working overtime and 97 percent of labs are understaffed. In addition, 66% of laboratory technicians were unable to take vacations.

What’s more, data from the association revealed that 87 percent of lab technicians suffer from burnout and 42 percent are considering leaving the industry. The association also reports that 41 percent of technicians are eligible to retire within two to four years.

To make matters worse, Hoad says large U.S. companies have pressured the few remaining lab technicians in Ontario to leave the country and work for them.

“We’re talking about $ 10,000, $ 20,000 signing bonus to go to the US. We don’t want that to happen, so we need action now,” Hoad said.

The association has launched a three-phase call to action for the Ontario government. In the first phase, the provincial government would provide funding of $ 3.6 million over three years to create more clinical placements for students.

“The first phase is really about helping us provide more assistance to our hospital labs and our private labs so that they can accommodate students, that’s the first bottleneck,” Hoad said.

The second phase provides $ 2.6 million over three years for laboratories in remote rural areas of northern Ontario. The third phase calls for the province to develop a simulation lab or training lab that provides hands-on experience for students, focusing on rural, remote and northern communities.

Without this funding, the association says laboratory staff shortages would lead to longer hospital stays, duplicate family doctor appointments and overall poorer care that could cost taxpayers 1.6. billion dollars a year.

Hoad says the association has sent its call to action to the province and is awaiting a response.

“With all due respect, I understand that there is a lot going on with our government right now, so we just want to make sure they pay attention and that someone actually starts doing something,” he said. she declared.

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