How can we save our hospital?

  1. I am an OR nurse at a small rural county-owned hospital in mid-Michigan. I came here 2 years ago from a large teaching hospital, in need of a change in specialty and location. I feel like I am working in a combat zone. The hospital was once a thriving facility, but it has become so sub-standard, that the only patients we serve are the very old and those who are too poor to get a ride to neighboring citiy hospitals.
    The conditions at our hospital are truly unbelievable. The CEO totally rules the hospital, and has brought the term "micro-management" to a new level. She even oversees the mainteneance and housekeeping crew. We work with old and broken equipment, totally obsolete and on the verge of collapse. Nothing is maintained and is only replaced when it is beyond repair, and then it is replaced with borrowed, donated, or used equipment. Last summer, our very old back-up generator bit the dust during a surgery, and we finished the surgery using flashlights. Our CEO prides herself on running in the black, and ties up every available cent in investments. Even donations from local businesses disapear into an investment portfolio. The hospital only employs 5 housekeepers, and it is beyond dirty. Everywhere you look you can see blatant violations of Health Department, OSHA and JCAHO standards. There are no charge nurses, and no nurse managers, so nursing care is poor. Policies and procedures are not upheld as there is no one to oversee them.
    The Board of Directors is comprised of a group of individuals, lawyers, business owners, and a judge, who would not be caught dead in our dirty nasty facility. They are only interested in being board members to enhance their resumes. In desperation, a group of nurses and doctors met with them recently and were told that our hospital is good enough for the population it serves. We are all sad and depressed by this reaction from the Board.
    Surprisingly, nurses are paid extremely well here, and we all pull together as a team. We keep hoping that things will improve, but the only way that could happen is for our CEO to be replaced. She has no respect for her employees or the patients we serve and she is running this hospital into the ground. I could tell you the most shocking stories about this place.
    Where do we turn? We have great fear of reprisal from her if she knew we reported her to any agency. We desperately need advice.
    VictoriaG
    •  
  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   canna42
    sounds like you contacted the wrong people. When our hospital got in that shape we contacted attorney general. He then contacted appropriate ppl..for us it was local district attorney and medicaid office ( that is who has our license to operate). Contact your attorney general of your state re: conditions of facility , equipment and substandard care. You could also contact state board of nursing.
  4. by   VictoriaG
    This facility keeps skimming through the system somehow. One of the most shocking incidents in recent memory involved a nurse I shall call Tammy. She came to work for us on med-surg as an LPN, said she was going to school for her RN. About the time she said she had received her RN licencure, she was arrested and jailed for check kiting, yet continued to work for us on work release. Yes, people, I am not making this up. At that time, the OR manager was desperate for staff and went to interview her for an OR position at the jail!!!! Tammy started working in OR about the same time I was hired. She said she had ACLS and was working ICU and Chemo also. She was a lazy nurse and had a poor attendance record, but management seemed to love her. She worked in OR for over a year before our new OR manager (who has since quit in frustration) demanded a copy of her license. Not only did Tammy not possess an RN license, she had let her LPN license expire! The hospital tried to make little of this astounding and criminal act, and of their own negligence in not demanding verification of licensure. The CEO issued a gag order to all of us. Somehow they got away with it, and so did Tammy.
    I feel that she should be in prison.
    I could list incident after incident. Many of the employees at the hospital have never worked in a "real" hospital and have no idea that they are working under dangerous and illegal conditions. We have no bio-med and our maintenance men are ignorant about how things should be done; they will fix an extension cord with adhesive tape and send it back to us. On the med-surg unit, surgical and medical patients are put in the same room. Our transport monitor broke three months ago and the CEO will not pay the money to fix it. We have no way to monitor critical patients when transferring them from the OR to ICU. We literally have no cardiac monitors in ER. A local bank donated $50,000 a year ago specifically for those monitors, but the CEO has not approved the purchase, as she has invested the money. I could go on and on. People's lives are at stake here. Yes, I could call the Inspector General, the Health Department. But they will not take anonymous complaints and I would have to give my name. I do not feel that I can leave the hospital right now, as the OR manager has left and I am running the OR. The only other full-time nurse in OR is green and he would not be able to handle things with me gone. The doctors and the other OR staff are depending on me to keep things going, I cannot let them down. I am at my wit's end.
  5. by   P_RN
    Victoria, this is unconscionable!

    You need to get out of there.

    I cannot understand how the CEO can override the MI State Board of Nursing and allow this "person" to work at the hospital. Have you got malpractice insurance? I certainly hope so, for you are on a very slippery slope with your well being and your own license.

    The Attorney General of the state of MI needs to be involved. The fact that monies are being diverted in itself is fraud. So do the Health Department and JCAHO IF the hospital even pays them to monitor, which sounds unlikely.

    Is there a newspaper nearby. This sounds like a "news tip" that might intrigue an investigative reporter.

    Bottom line is this place may not BE fixable.
  6. by   Zee_RN
    I don't usually respond like this, but, Victoria....you are enabling...by sticking around and claiming "The doctors and the OR are depending on me..." "I have to stick around...." As long as you keep doing that, they will keep it up. Why should they change? You are there, at your wit's end, making it work. If you weren't there, what would happen? The OR would close, apparently...and thereby a BIG decrease in revenue...thereby forcing them to address the issue.

    And should something terrible happen, and you're in charge, do you think that CEO is gonna say it was her fault for not addressing the issues? No way, Lady Jane...somehow it's gonna be YOU that fries. Protect yourself, protect your patients...get the heck outta there ... and maybe the physicians will grow balls and do something about it instead of depending on the nurses to make an impossible situation work.
  7. by   kaycee
    I agree that you need to leave. It sounds like a lost cause and you certainly owe this hospital nothing. Sounds to me like the best thing that could happen is for this place to close.
    You sound like a very dedicated caring nurse that needs to focus that energy toward a new job in a reputable facility.
  8. by   NRSKarenRN
    At our PA Nsg convention, RN state legislator recommended to us to go thru states Attorney General to avoid backyard shuffleing of serious health complaints.

    Link to Michigan's AG: http://www.ag.state.mi.us/
  9. by   RNed
    Sounds like this hospital is in a death spiral. It is time to bail out. Definitely change is needed and you are not in the postion to effectively cause that change, therefore, you need to change. Bail out of this one. It is headed for bankrupt status and closure. Take your vacation and get a new job. In some cases you may be able to save your retirement if you terminate prior to governmental oversight coming in, might want to check on that prior to leaving. Also check on the rules related to "leave of absence" verses "voluntary termination" and what status that places you in as it relates to retirement and other benefits.

    Wouldn't hesitate to much on this one, get all the information you can regarding your benefits and don't worry to much about what the CEO and board are doing. You would serve yourself and your co-workers well to have more information and not less information about your rights and employment status. At this point I would be leary of information supplied by your employer without your own review from other outside sources. This is the time the employer can not be trusted.

    Good luck
  10. by   oramar
    Just remember that when conditions deteriorate to this state your own personal welfare is of no concern to the powers that be. They will roll over you with a steamroller if it suits their purposes. Your entire future and your very life will be wasted with little no guilt on their part. The time for worrying about saving this hospital is past, you better save yourself.
  11. by   essarge
    While I agree with the posters here, I have to ask......where are the doctor's in all of this. Or do they not have their liscense either? I would definetly rock the boat on this one!! I can't believe that people in your area put up with this either!!! I grew up in Michigan and find this to be an embarassment that people that may be part of my family would be exposed to this!!!!

    I'm curious to know when you stated "mid-michigan" just how close you are to Ludington. My family still resides in that area and I would like to warn them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE be a patient advocate and get something done!!!!
  12. by   VictoriaG
    I know, I know I should get out while I can. But someone has to do something. Zee was absolutely right when she said someone besides the CEO would take the fall, she and the DON routinely blame others when backed against the wall. A few months ago my OR supervisor took matters into her own hands about the state of Central Supply. She had documented proof that she had been demanding the CEO repair the leaking sterilizer and replace the moldy flooring and drywall. Finally, she brought the surgeons down to Central to see for themselves. The Docs hit the roof, and the infection control doc closed Central supply, and ultimately Surgery. Half-ass repairs were done immediately, but the CEO claimed that the OR supervisor had never informed her of the state of affairs. (Which is a real joke, as we are not allowed to even rearrange furniture without her permission.) Luckily, our supervisor had documented proof of all her correspondence with the CEO.
    As for the doctors, I have worked in many facilities and have never before seen a place where the doctors have so little say. They are treated with as little respect as the rest of us. There is an incredible turn-over rate, and we work with a skeleton crew.
    I truly believe that the only hope for our hospital is an investigative expose. We are a small town of about 10,000 people, and the local newspaper would not dream of publishing anything adverse about the hospital or the Board members. I have contacted reporters in neighboring cities but cannot seem to get their attention.
    Those of us who stay do so because this hospital is desperately needed by the patients we serve. We are a devoted group giving the best care possible under horrible circumstances. I am determined not to let that woman beat us.
    The support I am getting from all of you answering my letter means so much to me. If any of you can think of a way out for us, please contact me at my e-mail address, concerned@gobot.com.
    Victoria G
  13. by   VictoriaG
    I know, I know I should get out while I can. But someone has to do something. Zee was absolutely right when she said someone besides the CEO would take the fall, she and the DON routinely blame others when backed against the wall. A few months ago my OR supervisor took matters into her own hands about the state of Central Supply. She had documented proof that she had been demanding the CEO repair the leaking sterilizer and replace the moldy flooring and drywall. Finally, she brought the surgeons down to Central to see for themselves. The Docs hit the roof, and the infection control doc closed Central supply, and ultimately Surgery. Half-ass repairs were done immediately, but the CEO claimed that the OR supervisor had never informed her of the state of affairs. (Which is a real joke, as we are not allowed to even rearrange furniture without her permission.) Luckily, our supervisor had documented proof of all her correspondence with the CEO.
    As for the doctors, I have worked in many facilities and have never before seen a place where the doctors have so little say. They are treated with as little respect as the rest of us. There is an incredible turn-over rate, and we work with a skeleton crew.
    I truly believe that the only hope for our hospital is an investigative expose. We are a small town of about 10,000 people, and the local newspaper would not dream of publishing anything adverse about the hospital or the Board members. I have contacted reporters in neighboring cities but cannot seem to get their attention.
    Those of us who stay do so because this hospital is desperately needed by the patients we serve. We are a devoted group giving the best care possible under horrible circumstances. I am determined not to let that woman beat us.
    The support I am getting from all of you answering my letter means so much to me. If any of you can think of a way out for us, please contact me at my e-mail address, concerned@gobot.com.
    Victoria G
  14. by   MRed94
    While I agree with most of what has been said here, I cannot agree that your patients are more important than the rest of your career.

    I, too, would bail as fast as possible.

    I know it is a difficult situation, but not having your license or a way to help support yourself or your family is MUCH more difficult....in the long run.

    I still think there is an option, there is a "whistle-blower's" law out there to protect you.

    Make sure you make much documentation, take pics if you can, and do all that you can to make sure your a$$ is covered....

    You don't need this stress, and you certainly don't need a lawsuit.

    OSHA and whoever else is there to protect the patients, let them do their jobs......

    Either way, you are seriously risking your life and your career.

    Maybe it is time to talk to the MDs again, and maybe go to the local Nursing Association, if you are affiliated......

    Somebody HAS to be able to do something about that, Regulatory or someone.

    Keep YOURSELF above water, and remember that we are all here for you to lean on.

    Hugs and prayers....

    Marla

close
How can we save our hospital?