Nursing Voices

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Weekend Report

Can you guess what this nurse and I have in common?

Answer: We both work in a factory, and we both frequently check our watches to see how many more hours we have to work until we can go home. The difference is that she gets two 15-minute breaks and lunch. She works in a union shop and I don’t.

I bet you have figured out that my weekend didn’t go too well. I work in a health care factory. The admissions kept rolling in, and there were hospitals from all over the state calling our unit asking if we had any open beds. Sure, we had beds, but we didn’t have enough staff to take care of the patients, so I threw down the gauntlet. I CLOSED THE UNIT FOR ADMISSIONS. Then I told administration. Sacrilege, heresy, blasphemy! When I was asked to explain myself, I said, “I am keeping the unit safe. My first priority is the safety of the patients on the unit.” Keep a mental note of these phrases and make them your mantra. Administrators have a hard time arguing with logic.

I’m sure Mr. Grinch and the administrative bean counters are going to put their heads together this week and figure out a way to make sure that we never lose money like this again. In all fairness, my boss backed me up. She sounded sad when I talked to her over the phone—I’m sure she’s catching hell about this today at work—but she backed my decision about closing the unit.

My plans for today:

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.


Blogger Intelinurse2B said...

I long for the day when I will speak to anyone at the hospital, especially administration, with such boldness! You go girl!

2:04 PM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

As health care professionals we need to speak up when safety becomes an can they argue that....what would they rather see a lawsuit? I think not....good for you for speaking up!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Runs With Scissors said...

For the same reason, I have also closed my unit to admissions before. Believe me, the few hundred dollars they "lose" by paying a nurse's salary for 8 hours is far less than the few thousand they get for an admission or the several thousand they may lose due to a sentinel event and patient injury or demise. I don't understand their logic.

The other phrases they hate to hear ... "I won't hesitate to invoke Safe Harbor", and "This is a hostile work environment". Another one that's only applicable to certain situations (mine included) is "We'll NEVER get Magnet status if we have to work like this". My Mrs. Grinch is so hell-bent on becoming a Magnet hospital, that she listens to that one!

Rest up - sounds like you earned it!

7:06 PM  
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5:09 AM  
Blogger alphabet soup said...

After all that jumping up and down to protect your patients' welfare what you need is a good sleep.

7:03 AM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Mary Anne said it: Include "lawsuits" in your next "mantra." As in, "I was thinking of the organization and how we don't want any lawsuits."

I wonder if admits to psych hospitals are up generally in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy?

12:33 PM  
Blogger poody said...

I am so with you Mother Good for you. I was a traveller for a while and one thing I noticed was that unions do work. In California and Hawaii the nurse to pt ratio was never exceeded. Never! I wish Texas would unionize but around here them's fightin' words. You of all people Mother Jones should know the importance of the Union!

12:39 PM  
Blogger may said...

go and enjoy a long dose of ZZZZZZZZZZ mother jones:)

1:17 PM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

I haven't seen an increase in pysch admissions as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings. Most of our folks right now are mood disorder patients. For some reason we see an increase in manic patients this time of the year. I think the increase in daylight triggers mania.


1:30 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I think you are right about the increase in daylight MJ. I witnessed a similar phenomenon during my 35+ years in law enforcement. You did a courageous thing. I admire you for that. Keep us posted, right after your well deserved rest:-) Great post!

3:47 PM  
Anonymous geena said...

I've had to make similar calls in regards to opening up our overflow unit. I *know* the ER is backed up, but if I have no staff to open it, then I cannot open it! You'd be surprised at how many shift supervisors want us to stop, drop everything, and start calling our staff in to work on a different unit to accomodate patients that aren't even supposed to be in ICU! (Med/Surg, telemetry, TCU overflows)

Sorry, I'd rather focus on the patients we already have...

Good for you.

11:11 PM  
Blogger SQT said...

Hope you get some rest.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Forgotten Blue Line said...

Well I hope the hospital security officers came up and checked on you regualary.

11:04 PM  
Blogger The Angry Medic said...


7:24 PM  

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