Current Weather
10.6°C Showers NE 5 km/h
Full Forecast
Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday May 25 2015
3:28 PM EDT
2014-04-23 at 15:45

New uniforms for nurses could correct age-old patient complaint


THUNDER BAY -- Officials at the region's hospital hope they've found a solution to a common complaint.

Nurses at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre currently wear scrubs that make it difficult for the average person to differentiate them from the rest of the hospital's staff. The problem was highlighted in a survey completed by nearly 1,000 nurses and 40 patients.

“Patients and families identified that they found it very difficult to identify who was a professional nurse” said Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott, executive vice-president of patient services. "With that we put it all together and identified that as a hospital we’d like to make some changes." The problem was first identified more than five years ago and brought up at a meeting for the Nursing Practice Council, a group of nurses who represent every unit of nurses in the hospital.

Now, the hospital believes its found a solution and are moving forward with an initiative to give every nurse a new uniform. The design of the uniform has not been decided, but Crocker-Ellacott hopes nurses will engage in the initiative and help design a new uniform they can be proud to wear.

“It's an open process and we're going to hear all of the concerns and comments of all of our staff," she said. "We're going to work together and hopefully make everybody happy with respect to what is chosen because it will be partly their choice."

Nurses will begin wearing the new uniform in spring of 2015.

Previous attempts at solving this problem led to lanyards for the hospital's nursing staff. But that solution caused new problems as nurses found the lanyards got in the way too often.

Patients also had trouble seeing the lanyards, so while it failed to fix the original problem altogether. 

Nurses will begin wearing the new uniform in spring of 2015.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error


We've improved our comment system.
CARJ says:
Nurses don't get nearly enough credit. Everytime I have been at that hospital, I have been treated very,very well. These people are very overworked, but yet have to be perfect decision makers all the time. Same with the doctors. I am not in the medical profession, but I have enough life experience to recognize a dedicated person. I support them all the way, I don't care about their apparell. Politicians dress nice all the time, and they have NO credibility in my eyes
4/26/2014 7:19:30 PM
Jrsmrs says:
I am absolutely appalled that TBRHSC management would choose to focus on such an insignificant issue when our hospital is in the midst of a health care crisis. We are over-run with more patients than we can handle, and with patients who require more time than we have to give them, yet they see no need to increase staffing to meet the needs of the patient population. If our management has enough time and budget to spend their salary hours developing a task force on uniform policy changes, perhaps they could consider hiring enough nurses to allow us to properly care for our patients, rather than focussing on what color tops we are wearing.
When your house is burning down, you don't start thinking about a paint color for your living room.
4/25/2014 6:47:54 PM
Tannoy says:
Heres a trick to tell who is a nurse...

"Excuse me... are you a nurse?"

There, problem solved...
4/25/2014 8:20:48 AM
handfull says:
So, what about all the nurses that are not female. The old retro cap will not work for them. Leave well enough alone and focus on the great job they not and not the uniform. REALLY, who cares?
4/24/2014 10:51:15 PM
cityisgreat says:
what a bunch of whiners. you people do realize that there are people that are unemployed and your crying cause you have to wear a uniform?...wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
tell that to the fire men, police, military, and everyone else who uses a uniform to distinguish them from everyone else.......i thought you nurses thought you were special? well here is the way to do it. Don't you get it? Its called Best practices...get in line or get out....your choice
4/24/2014 6:44:28 PM
Kick Me says:
Interesting choice of words on the part of the Hospital Administration... Which in my mind is deliberate as layoffs continue in our local healthcare system.

In Ontario there is no such job title as "professional nurse". There are Registered Nurses (RN) and Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). Two very different jobs that come with very different educational backgrounds and scopes of practice.

Contrary to what some would like you to believe, the old adage "a nurse is a nurse is a nurse" is a lie. The studies back this up. Decrease the number of RN's in your care team, and you will have worse outcomes in your health.

Of course, make your "professional nurse" staff wear all the same scrubs and they can continue the layoffs, shift your RN / RPN ratio and pinch those pennies. The public will be none the wiser.
4/24/2014 2:26:44 PM
Hawk says:
If indeed the hospital is to go ahead with the standard uniform for nurses, have nurses decide what they wear, after all they are the ones that have to wear them for 12hr shifts. And if they want to be infection control savvy, then nurses should arrive at work and change into uniforms already supplied by the hospital and washed by the hospital. I can see it now if they enforce the nurses to pay out of pocket...they'll buy 1 set and just keep wearing it, no risk of infection there!
4/24/2014 2:03:44 PM
dynamiter says:
Sounds to me like a Robo Call - If you dont do what the boss wants you will be gone like a bunch of others over the past year or so. I know that the boss has to put her stamp on her new organization but targeting nurses and their unis that is kind of petty. Give them a hat if you really want to do something constructive and unique.
4/24/2014 12:54:58 PM
Hawk says:
As a nurse that works at both hospitals in Thunder Bay, this is a slap in the face at all the hard work we nurses do. Why not worry about more important things like the gridlock situation and Long term care beds that are lacking. Nurses spend their own money on the uniforms they choose to wear, and look good wearing them. Will the hospital pay for these new unis they are planning on enforcing? Will doctors and managers have a set uniform too? Worry about the greater issues that have been ignored, we nurses do a great job, let us have ONE say in what we wear.
4/24/2014 11:43:53 AM
sheebe1 says:
Problem solved...Let the nursing wear their colourful tops, but make the bottoms white! White pants, White skirts, White Shorts...Patients will be able to distinguish between nursing, doctors, house keeping, and student nursing!Everyone is Happy, and not a lot of expense for new uniforms!!!
4/24/2014 11:06:32 AM
nfa16 says:
It's not a matter of clothes getting ruined. It's not even the matter of having to pay for the clothes. Many places that require a certain uniform (or footwear, etc.) at least offer a clothing allowance. Other non-nursing staff of the hospital have paid-for uniforms that are laundered in house. Other government-funded essential services have paid-for uniforms. Why should nursing staff be treated any differently? At least when you pay for your clothes you get a choice in what you wear. If it is a mandated uniform that is going to be implemented on the nursing staff, I think they should be given an allowance at the very least.
4/24/2014 10:44:10 AM
j_northey says:
I am very concerned if they are making decisions on stuff like nurses uniforms based on just 40 surveys. With that many responses you have an error of +/-15.5% or to put it another way, if they had 50% of people saying it was an issue then the real number (if you surveyed everyone in town) could be anywhere from 34.5% to 65.5%. That is an unacceptably high error rate to base decisions on. Also, how random was the sample of patients? Did they control for age, gender, racial background?

The idea of a uniform is fine if necessary (I personally haven't had trouble telling who is who and if I ask the wrong person they direct me to the right person), but be careful that the choice isn't based on false science.
4/24/2014 9:56:55 AM
SMB says:
Super easy - keep wearing the variety of scrubs you already have, but add the traditional nurses' cap. Retro is cool.
4/24/2014 8:50:06 AM
The Beaver..... says:
Caesar build a bridge across the mighty river Rhine in 10 days and that was in 55 BC.
Here we are 5 years later and still no new uniforms...and hee.. only one more year to go. Modern life is so swift and so efficient.
4/24/2014 7:43:51 AM
nvjgu says:
Having an RN walk in and say, Hi I'm your RN today. My name is Bla Bla has worked evey time for me. I know when someone is cleaning my room they are cleaning staff. I know if someone is pushing a cart full a lab stuff there from the lab I don't need to ID every nurse or doctor, only the one's that are on my case during there shift. One thing I ask is that care givers be cheerfull as hard as it is, there's alot of really sick people there and being in hosp is awfull, working and inmate.
4/24/2014 1:55:27 AM
debt collector says:
Shouldn't management be worrying about important issues like gridlock, funding short falls, long wait times and the number of patients per nurse?
4/24/2014 12:16:47 AM
virtualrealityczech says:
Perhaps the hospital administration can begin the process by restricting clerical support staff from wearing scrubs? Why does a ward clerk or ER admissions clerk wearing scrubs? Maybe that is where the confusion is starting!
4/23/2014 11:36:50 PM
Gord says:
Seriously, people are complaining about this? Wow.
4/23/2014 10:07:55 PM
passlake says:
perhaps those employees that are not nurses should not wear scrubs, or if they do, they should be specific solid head-to-toe colours... they sort-of-kind-of do that, but not everyone follows the rules.

that's too easy though.
4/23/2014 10:02:26 PM
tbaylady says:
I love this idea! I am never quite sure if I am talking to a nurse, doctor, orderly or housekeeping staff sometimes! And although your bunnies, balloons, and kitty cats on your clothing maybe cute, it certainly doesn't too much to convey your professional status or instill confidence in any patient over 10 years old. Nurses are skilled professionals, it would be nice if they dressed like it!
4/23/2014 9:33:21 PM
Theangryone says:
Really? Complaining about having to buy your own work clothes? Most working people, nit all by the way, have to pay for their own attire. I agree that lanyards are a PITA but what about larger, colour coded name tags that clip to the scrub? We have those at work and we can tell who us who. So can the parents we deal with.
Wile-E... Our own personal clothes get ruined as well. Suck it up and wash it or buy new clothes. Come on already.
4/23/2014 9:09:42 PM
tadzup says:
In a survey of 1000 nurses and a measly 40 patients they decided that patients couldn't tell "professional" nurses apart? Huh?

Given the massive difference in the number of nurses vs patients surveyed, if this problem was brought up enough times to cause a change it would seem that the nurses are the ones who identified this "problem"? I don't understand why they would want to spend more money buying new uniforms (unless they think the hospital is paying) rather than have their existing uniforms embroidered or wearing a name tag. Plus, aren't the ID tag lanyards different colours for doctors, nurses, administrators, etc.?

This makes very little sense.
4/23/2014 8:54:22 PM
enos012 says:
Why is this being made a big deal?!?! The nurses are there for the PATIENTS!!! People can't tell who the heck is who!!! It was be nice to have some uniformity and not have to ask 5 people before you find the right person!!!
4/23/2014 8:52:10 PM
jaxoon says:
Easy solution. Just bring back the hats. Then you can tell the difference between a nurse & a janitor.
4/23/2014 8:45:21 PM
jjj says:
None of the nurses mind paying for their own clothes, but we chose them, as does everyone else who pays for their clothes. Employers requiring set uniforms pay for them, but the hospital has no money for more nurses, so where will they have money to pay for the uniforms they will expect us to wear?? Patients are introduced to their nurses, names are written on the white boards at their bedsise, and some still don't remember. Dressing everyone alike will add to the confusion for some patients--they won't have anything to distinguish the nurses apart. Nurses are being told they must dispose of half their wardrobe--is Management being told to do that and dress alike for the patients? Doubt it!! Several local businesses will also lose income when these uniforms are 'outsourced' This survey she quotes did NOT say we wanted to dress the same--but she's twisting it to suit her wants and desires
4/23/2014 8:17:21 PM
enos012 says:
You are kidding right? I've worked at many places and each time I had to shell out for clothes! Nurses get switched on a regular basis, that adds to the patients confussion. It also doesn't help the patient because it gives the nureses little time to get to know the patient properly.
4/23/2014 8:58:09 PM
dynamiter says:
This sounds like an environmentally sound solution to patient care. You cant smoke on the property because it is unhealthy but you can literally have people burn thousands of dollars worth of uniforms because it does not meet somebody's idea of what a nurse should now look like. I would imagine that ONA will take this up and in the next collective bargaining agreement there will be an allowance for these new unis. Since there isnt enough health care dollars to go around in the first place the patient will again suffer as the money has got to come from somewhere,

Here is my idea give each nurse a bigger name tag ( or go back to making them wear a nurses hat - a lot cheaper than new unis)
4/23/2014 8:14:12 PM
therealreason says:

Most other people in the working world can wear their "work clothes" for occasions OTHER than being at work, so yes, it is an issue.
4/23/2014 8:00:07 PM
miriah15 says:
That is nice for patients, but what about the poor nurses? These people already have a ton of uniforms they've spent mostly their own money on. While the story implies the nurses will be given uniforms, we all know the hospital doesn't have that in its budget. Additionally, this will be a huge blow to our local scrubs retailers. I'm sorry nurses, I feel for you!
4/23/2014 7:04:33 PM
windigo says:
My God, you have to pay for your own clothes to wear to work. The injustice. No one else in the working word has to pay for their own clogthes
4/23/2014 6:43:04 PM
Wile E. says:
When I grew up all nurses dressed the same. I believe these uniforms should be paid for and cleaned as well. The reason; most people don't come home from work with blood, urine, feces, or vomit on their clothes everyday. The least the tax payer can do is pay for their work attire much like the police, paramedics and firefighters get. I'm not a nurse by the way.
4/23/2014 8:10:33 PM
anvil of crom says:
" initiative to GIVE every nurse a new uniform"
OK...I am not sure what that quote means as it stands management does not supply uniforms.
To be honest if they are buying I'm in but I doubt it.
As of now Staff buys it,staff washes it at home, staff has the choice, Staff likes it that way.
Does the city pay for police, firemen and parmedics uniforms? I dont know.
But good for them, but as to the healthcare workers no free stuff here.
4/24/2014 10:06:39 AM
DonDillion says:
Agreed, and we are all "professional nurses, so there is no need to distinguish us from those 'other' nurses. The students have their colour and the rest of us have earned the privilage of scrub choice. We have no say in anything else that goes on in that building, at least let us dress ourselves. Patients are still not likely to remember our job title if you colour code us, they can't even read the colour coded signs for Isolation rooms, but again what does it matter if they gown's us darn nurses spreading VRE anyways.
4/23/2014 6:40:05 PM
mystified says:
One can only hope they don't get some New York clothing designer to make the uniforms at the taxpayers expense. Go to uniforms plus and buy them.
4/23/2014 5:35:09 PM
insertcorrectpunctuationhere says:
I love how it says "give every nurse a new uniform". That's hilarious. What they mean is make us buy new uniforms, when we already have hundreds of dollars worth of uniforms in our closets.
4/23/2014 4:11:27 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In