Low Census....again!

  1. The hospital I work in has a certain lineup they follow when the floors have low census. First, anyone OT is called off, then anyone who requests low census, then they start from the bottom of the food chain for each floor. Whoever has been there the least amount of time is REQUIRED to take low census or on-call (nurse's choice). Usually a little LC is a break from hard nights.....but recently not so much.

    I've been on my floor almost a year but unfortunately all the other newbies that have come after me have been transferred to another unit they opened just a few months ago, so they are on separate staffing. That leaves me in an awkward position. I'm FT and I've been called off everyday this week....which is going to hit hard when payday comes around. Isn't there some kind of law that I'm unaware of that protects FT nurses hours, that I can only be called off a certain number of times in a payperiod?? Maybe thats just wishful thinking

    Anyone else have any problems with this crap

    Jess, RN
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   walk6miles
    I ran into the same problem when I first moved to Florida. Initially, I came to Central Florida as a staff RN in the Open Heart Unit of a large religious cult's hospital. I was not of the same religion. I was smart enough to have a contract made out and signed which covered the bonus program they offered me over the telephone. I was fortunate to have even my promised night shift differential covered.
    The contract read that the day I arrived in the hospital for orientation, I would be given a check for reimbursement for travel, moving expenses, rental help, and bridge iinsurance until their plan kicked in. The HR rep immediately tried to tell me I had to wait 3 months for the first "installment"... I pulled out my contract (signed by the HR big cheese) and I gave him one hour to provide me with the funds promised or bye-bye baby.
    Needless to say, I received my money.
    NO ONE BOTHERED TO TELL ME THAT THE HOSPITAL SLOWS DOWN CONSIDERABLY IN THE SUMMER - plus, they lost their insurance contract with BCBS. We went from doing 22 hearts a day, seven days a week to less than half of that.
    The group running the open heart recovery had a plan: they worked; all the rest of "us" (non cult members) were called and told to stay home.
    I had so little money/work for about 5 months that I sold my wedding ring for grocery money; hocked anything I could for cash; gradually the work started to pick up but for me it was too late - I had to declare bankruptcy. That's another story for another day.
    Eventually, I left when they broke the contract. But, I learned my lesson -
    I found a hospital that treated staff fairly (I would be called to stay home for low census - my neighbor, a member of the cult and a nurse in the same unit would go to work) . I photocopied the "log" of who was called off - white out and erasures made it difficult to read but it basically backed up the complaint that we were not being treated fairly.
    I have been at my present hospital for 8 years - I have never been called off.
    Hope this helps you. God Bless!
  4. by   morte
    just IMing with a friend of mine, she has worked in a place that called off for low cen. and it went up the ladder, ie the next day would be the next least senior person, it was not always the least senior person...had to be shared
  5. by   nursesaideBen
    that's a stinky way of putting folks on call, where I work we have a list and we just take turns taking call, it's worked pretty well.
  6. by   hikernurse
    I'm home today due to low census, actually.

    All the nurses in our unit take turns. Whoever was called off last, won't be called off until their turn. It's not entirely "fair" since more call-offs may occur during some shifts than others, but overall it seems to work. We're encouraged to make up hours by working understaffed shifts or we can float.

    I can see how it would be very difficult to be the only wage-earner in a family and be called off.
  7. by   P_RN
    I think it should be rotated up and down the line. I can see their wanting at least some senior staff on, but its totally unfair to put someone on call every day......are you takeing vac time to do this? If they put you off you should either get call pay or take day w/o pay if you want to. On call sucks you can't do anything.
  8. by   military spouse
    We rotated call-offs. Generally, somebody wanted to be called off and they were the first, but if that didn't happen there was a book to keep track of who had been called off most recently. I wouldn't accept the fact that the loner somebody is there, the less likely they are to be called off. I would suggest changes to mgt., switch units or resign.
  9. by   EarthChild1130
    My unit has a lot of call-off too, and it works up the chain too, starting with OT, then least seniority to most seniority...I've tried fussing about it, but they say 'That's the way the union voted it in...'...the kicker is that I'm not union...I'm what they call 'fair share'...but even the union nurses with low seniority get called off first...I have the least seniority of any nurse in the WHOLE hospital, from what a house supervisor told me...so my paycheck is usually short a few hours...luckily for me, while my unit is sometimes slow, the psych ward is more than happy to have me pick up 2 or 3 extra shifts a month.

    Perhaps you could float to another unit a couple of times a month? Or when they try to call off ask if they can call up the list and see if someone else would rather stay home? I've tried that a few times and sometimes it works.
  10. by   bigsyis
    Quote from hikernurse

    all the nurses in our unit take turns. whoever was called off last, won't be called off until their turn. it's not entirely "fair" since more call-offs may occur during some shifts than others, but overall it seems to work. we're encouraged to make up hours by working understaffed shifts or we can float.

    i can see how it would be very difficult to be the only wage-earner in a family and be called off.
    when i last worked in the hospital our low census staffing was handled the same way. for those that could afford it, they would ask to be put on the call-off list, but usually several nurses were called off. my husband is disabled, and it was always a huge loss to miss 12 hours of pay w/$10/hr diff! when i was working out my 2 week notice before i went to the cardiology office, i was called off the last two times i was scheduled to work. they said that they thought they were doing me a favor, because my husband was in the hospital. i actually needed the pay more than ever, because of that.
  11. by   meownsmile
    We have a call off list,, and if you dont ask for it they start mandetory off. But they rotate and everyone gets their turn. I dont see why they would always call of the least senior staff. Not a good way to promote retention at all.
    Maybe you need to sit down and write a new recommendation and turn it in to your nursing administration. Dont forget if you complain you need to at least give them something to work with as far as a better solution to the problem, IN Writing. Otherwise its just lip service. You can do it, step up to the plate and go to bat for all the others that are getting the shaft on hours. At least see if they cant give you enough hours that you can pay for your benefits instead of you having to cut them a check for it.
  12. by   kukukajoo
    I imagine that this would affect retention. Heck who wants to be low man with that policy? I agree with Meownsmile- ask them to change the policy and come up with a better way and present one which is more fair. Tell them why it is unfair and not working.
  13. by   BittyBabyGrower
    We cancel OT,then ET. We keep a log of dates people were cancelled. We call that list first starting with the person cancelled the longest ago all the way up the list. If no one wants to be cancelled, then we mandatory cancel, again, we have a list of dates when people were mand. cancelled and we work our way up that list also. If there are a bunch of new people, it starts with them, but is never the same low people over and over again. We also cancel in 4 hour blocks so that no one is forced to take 8 hours of vacation or no pay.
  14. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from BittyBabyGrower
    We cancel OT,then ET. We keep a log of dates people were cancelled. We call that list first starting with the person cancelled the longest ago all the way up the list. If no one wants to be cancelled, then we mandatory cancel, again, we have a list of dates when people were mand. cancelled and we work our way up that list also. If there are a bunch of new people, it starts with them, but is never the same low people over and over again. We also cancel in 4 hour blocks so that no one is forced to take 8 hours of vacation or no pay.
    Yep. Pretty much the same over here...

    cheers,

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