Low census policy at your hospital? - page 2

Hi- I have a question that I am hoping to get answered here. I am a recent grad who is beginning to see the reality of working in a hospital, and the issues that I did not know existed when I was... Read More

  1. by   rn undisclosed name
    We had a similar policy of being cancelled in 4 hour increments like what you describe. It sucked to have to wait by the phone. This was happening on regular shifts and also on extra shifts. We also did not get paid for this. I came in once and worked one of those 4 hour shifts and it was pure hell. Definitely not something I want to do ever again.

    But, enough of us complained and they have changed the policy. Now we can still get cancelled but we don't have to wait by the phone. They will tell us when we are needed. The only catch is we might come in and then the person who is already there may get sent home. Basically they can only cancel us once in that day (for however many hours they specify) and then they have to guarantee us the hours. This is new so I am curious how this will work out.

    I did recently interview at a hospital who will cancel you and you may have to come in. They are paying you to be on call ($2.00-$2.50/hour). Then if you come in they pay you time and a half. Now I think that is very fair.
  2. by   jmgrn65
    If the units census is down and we have too many nurses than it is possible someone would have to float to another unit. IF there aren't any needs than a nurse stays home until the next staffing period 7a,3p,7p, 11p. No one is on call. but if it is a 12 hours shift you are expected to be available for the next staffing period.
    If you come to work and they don't need you the hospital pays you 2 hours.
    Some units like ICU's may place there people on call but they get on call pay.
  3. by   Sabby_NC
    Quote from 2ndbach
    Hi-
    I have a question that I am hoping to get answered here. I am a recent grad who is beginning to see the reality of working in a hospital, and the issues that I did not know existed when I was interviewing for work. One of the biggest that I can see at the moment is the issue of low census, and the policy at my hospital is as follows: I am scheduled for 36 hours per week ( 3, 12.5 hour shifts). At any time, if there is a low patient census, we are told (in rotation) to not come in, and will not be paid. However, we are expected to wait by the phone from 7 until 11, because they are able to call us back in any time during this four hour period. We are NOT paid for any of this time, and if called in, are only paid for the time we are clocked in once we get there, even though we were scheduled for and available to work for the entire shift. It also has happened once a person comes to work. You clock in, work an hour or so,and then are told to go home. However, you are also told that they might need you at 11, so you might have to come back. I saw a nurse actually do this two weeks ago. She was not paid for any of her time wasted on 2 trips to the hospital, waiting around, etc. Is this normal? Is this actually going on at other hospitals? PLEASE, tell me what your hospital's low census policy is. Are you paid for at least a minimum of say 4 hours? Do you have to wait around to be recalled? I am dying to know! This seems absolutely crazy to me. Thanks!

    This only reconfirms my decision to never work in a hospital again. After 26 yrs of Hospital 'time' I am relieved to be out in the field.
    I know what I would be doing in this particular hospital... FIND THE DOOR!!
  4. by   RNsRWe
    I'm floored that this happens anywhere! I'm NOT in a union hospital, and there's no way any of us would put up with that. Period.

    Staffing frequently knows ahead of time that there's too many about to come in (just like they know there's not ENOUGH) and makes calls accordingly. If you get called at home before the shift and given the option of not coming in, you have the option of taking the day off without pay, OR using vacation or personal time in place of it. Or, you can say, "no thanks" and come in, but will have to work wherever they want to float you.

    Frequently, staffing knows that there's too many for a given shift, but knows that another unit is short, so the float is expected. In those cases, no one is given the option to go home: you just have to float if it's your turn.

    If you like, you can request to be put first on the Call Off list; that is, if you know that the census is low for the next day and you'd LIKE to be given the first shot at call-off, they can usually arrange that. But only if they don't need you elsewhere

    And when there's one too many people showing up for report for whatever reason, there's never a shortage of hands in the air when charge says "who wants to go home?" LOL....just punch out and call it a day. No one whines about wasting a trip in: if they were concerned about it, well, they wouldn't OFFER to go home!

    And there's no way in heck that ANY of us would stay by the phone after being called off. You've gotta be kidding. If I'm in the parking lot driving away, and someone's calling my cell phone...ROFL....I'm now unavailable!

    You ain't payin' me? I ain't sitting around.

    Forgot one other thing: I once got asked if I'd like to be called off for the next day, it was my choice to take the day off without pay. Staffing screwed up, and the next day I got the call asking if I could still go in at the last minute. I said "sure, for bonus pay!"....LOL....I wound up getting the Incentive Pay rate for the day I would have normally worked anyway!
    Last edit by RNsRWe on Nov 4, '07
  5. by   RNsRWe
    Quote from kellykul
    I did recently interview at a hospital who will cancel you and you may have to come in. They are paying you to be on call ($2.00-$2.50/hour). Then if you come in they pay you time and a half. Now I think that is very fair.
    You do? I must be jaded, lol....I don't sit by the phone for work for any reason. If I'm off, I'm OFF. They need to decide if they want me in or not. If they want me in, I go in, I get paid my full rate. If they don't, and I'm asked to stay home, my time is my own!
  6. by   meownsmile
    We have until our start time to be called back after being called off. If they call you in you come in with regular pay. After your start time they may try to call you in but it isnt required you come in after being given the day off. 12 hour people get called off in 8 hour increments so say at 3pm you may have to go in if census comes up. But still with straight time. It is a little irritating to have to go in at 3 after being called off for the first 8 hours of your shift, but 12 hour people know this up front. If they think they might need you they give you call when they call you off and you are paid 2.00/hr to be available if needed.
    I wouldnt do it any other way. I wont be on call to them unless im paid. If they want to try to catch me on my day off and see if i can work fine, but i still have every right to say no if i dont want to.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from ocankhe
    either you are a professional or you are not. hospitals that treat their nursing staff non professionally and quite frankly like day laborers won't survive in the long term. no i take that back, they will survive as long as we, as professionals, accept this practice.
    i have found that the hospitals with strong nursing unions treat their professional nursing staff more professionally. rather strange, isn't it. that nurses have to unionize to be treated like the professionals we are!?
  8. by   CritterLover
    uhm, i've never worked in a state where that was legal.

    it may vary from state to state; but in general, if they can tell you what you can do with your time (such as staying by the phone), then they have to compensate you for it. (though they don't have to pay you much)

    i've been cancelled in 4hr increments before and not paid for those four hours. however, i wasn't considered to be "on call" and could do anything i wanted until the next time to go in. (say, if i was working 7p-7a; if i got cancelled for the first 4 hrs, then i could do what i wanted until 11pm. if i got cancelled then, i was free again until 3am). then i'd find out if i was cancelled again, or if they needed me. it wasn't the greatest situation to be in, but it didn't happen very often. and it still beats what you are describing. at least i could take a nap or go shopping or something.

    hospitals get away with this kind of stuff because nurses let them.

    i'd check into it if i were you. one call to the labor board will let you know.
  9. by   lorita
    The first hospital i worked at would occasionally call people off due to low census but they would call everyone and ask for you to volunteer for that and ussually they would find someone who wanted the day off but they never expected you to be on call unless they gave you on call pay. Only one time was I mandated off and that ws on Christmas and no one volunteered.

    Then the next hospital I went to work for would mandate the person with the lowest senority off work so I was being called to stay home more than 50% of my scheduled shifts. Another nurse told me if I just hang in there for a couple years I won't be called off anymore. I said I think my kids might want to eat before then. Anyway I quit that job after about 6 weeks, I couldn't handle that. This hospital was a union hospital.

    Really haven't had that problem since leaving there but have done different types of nursing.
  10. by   MB37
    When I worked in restaurants in New Orleans, management frequently tried to send people home when reservations were low for the night. However, we all knew that it was illegal for them to force you to go home on a regularly scheduled shift. They could send home anyone who was on OT, or anyone who had picked up the shift, but not anyone whose names were listed on the schedule. They generally asked for volunteers, and it usually wasn't a problem, but if no one wanted to go home they couldn't force us. Of course, as tipped employees who made $2.13/hr on the clock, you knew then that you weren't going to make much anyways, but I always refused to leave. If waiters have the right to not be sent home against their will, you would assume that nurses do as well...
  11. by   KaroSnowQueen
    At the last hopital I worked in, (thank God I'm not there any more), it was exactly like this:
    You get cancelled for four hours.
    You were EXPECTED to call THEM in three hours to see if you were needed.
    If not, then they expected you to come in for the last four hours of your shift if they called you. If you refused, they put you down for a call-in. And not one dime for being "on call."
    They DID keep a calendar to show whose turn it was to be cancelled.
    And sometimes they would cancel you two days out of three.
    But you were expected to remain "loyal" to your employer and not go out and get agency work, as that "might" interfere with your work there.:trout::uhoh21:
  12. by   nitenurse02
    At my hospital we can be called off 2 hours before our shift. They usually place us on call. per diems are called off first and then part-time with full-time getting the last calls. We also have a calendar in the house charge office where you can sign up for low census, if the census is then low for that day you will be the first one called, then the regular procedure is followed.

    you can ask to come in anyway and they will usually call someone else off. we get 2.50 an hour on call pay and we are expected to be able to leave our house 10 minutes after the call. we can also use our vacation time to make up the hours. or you can opt not to use the vacation time and not get paid at all.
  13. by   purple1953reading
    To cover staffing issues in a small rural hospital, it was not usually the RN s who got called off, as had to have so many of those there. BUT to aid in times of too many patients, we had to take turns being a "Star Person, which meant that if the census went up , you had to call in by one hour before time to start, and see if you were needed. Once you were called off, you were off. To be on call, like for OB call, we got very little like $1 hourly, and carried a beeper for the shirts we were scheduled on call for.

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