NJ Hosp Assoc against NJ Senate bill 2093 baring manditory overtime for RNS

  1. From my BB friends at the Nursing Spectrum:

    SENATE FANS THE FLAMES WITH NURSE OVERTIME BILL by Gary S Carter, Pres. NJ Hospital Assoc. " It's a basic rule of fire safety; Don't put water on a grease fire. It'll only make things worse. I'm reminded of that old precaution when I look at a new bill pendind in the Senate. In this case, the Senate's plan to douse a fire could blow up in your face and jeopardise the healthcare of millions of New Jerseyans." "Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) is working hard on strategies to ease the state's nursing shortage. But his latest idea, Seante Bill 2093, is an example of good intentions gone awry. This bill would prohibit hospitals from requiring nurses and other healthcare workers to work overtime during periods of short staffing. Leglislators say it's a matter of quality. That sounds good on the surface, but why don't their quality concerns apply to voluntary overtime and moonlighting as well?" "I wonder if anyone has really thought this matter through. If they had, they would recognize that mandatory OT must be available as a final resort to ensure patients are cared for. NJ and the entire nation are in the grips of an unprecedented nursing shortage. There's not a single hospital in this state that wouldn't like to hire more nurses. The reality is that they're flat-out not available. Our state anticipates a shortage of 14,000 RNs over the next five years." "Meanwhile the patients keep coming and they must be cared for. So in extreme circumstances when there's a floor full of patients and no nurse available, hospitals may require RNs to work extra hours. I make no apologies for that. As much as we value our nurses, hospitals' priority lies with the paitents, and those patients must have nurses at their bedsides." "The irony is that this bill, not overtime, could deliver a devastating blow to healthcare quality. How? Because it threatens access to healthcare. I'm sure you've seen news accounts of overcrowded ER's and hospitals diverting patients to other facilities. One of the reasons this is happening is the periodic unavailbility of hospital beds. That's because there are no nurses to staff them. If this bill becomes law, expect that problem to intensify." "This bill is at cross purposes with the quest for quality in yet another way. State regulations require that licensed nurses compromise at least 65% of the staff providing direct care to hospital patients. Yet hospitals could be hard pressed to meet that requirement if the state eliminates this last-ditch option for keeping nurses at the bedside. Every time I think about this matter, I see another unintended consequence. It makes me wonder where it will end. Will the next step be prohibition of OT for police and firefighters in the name of quality and safety? Like hospital nurses, they provide round-the-clock protection to our citizens." "In their rush to act, lawmakers have proposed a quick-fix that will only compound the complex problems plaguing our healthcare system. I would suggest to them that there are better ways of putting out this fire. NEW JERSEY HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION 760 ALEXANDER ROAD PO BOX 1 PRINCETON, NJ 08543-0001 www.njha.com

    Perhaps we should all write him? gcarter@njha.com

    And by the way write the paper, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, gain the ear of the media in whatever way you feel is appropriate.

    Star Ledger:
    eletters@starledger.com

    NJ Legislature: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   Mijourney
    Hi again Karen. I made a major error in my previous post. I note that that you included these remarks as part of a quote from the NJ AHA president. I still stand by my remarks, but I will directly aim them at this CEO. We need to stop the AHA from manipulating our psyches on the issue of patient care. We nurses have stuck with our patients through thick and thin and we are still rated over physicians, CEOs, and others in patient satisfaction.

    Times have changed, and as long as I'm a nurse, I still will have a caring bone in my body. But, we nurses must help our patients wake up and smell the coffee. We've got to get patients and families to understand how important it is for them to communicate with their health care providers and how important it is for them to practice healthy habits that would enable them to maintain some semblance of a quality of life. We can ill afford for people to continue coming to the hospital expecting physicians, nurses, therapists, and others to put them back together again like humpty dumpty and everything will be fine.
  4. by   taniacelia
    I recently read this article, too. I feel the NJHA is just looking out for itself. I really don't think pushing mandatory overtime on the already stressed, burning out resources that nursing has left will help. I have seen errors made by an exhausted nurse literally kill a patient. With the high acuity today, it could have been anyone. If we are forced to do mandatory overtime, the frequency of these things will increase resulting in more injuries and death. Nurses need to unite and put a stop to this. Next May 2002, there will be a Million Nurse March in Washington DC. The idea is to get legislation to stop some of the problems that we as nurses and as a society are facing in healthcare. If anyone is interested, check out millionnursemarch.org .
  5. by   Mijourney
    Hi NRSKarenRN. I think that the legislator that presented this bill is probably reacting emotionally partially as a result of the fact that the nursing shortage resonates highly with the boomers who are caught in a quagmire of providing care for their children, their elderly relatives, and themselves. Also, nurses probably make up a pretty sizable voting bloc in his campaigns. Perhaps he will be up for reelection in 2002?

    After reading your post, I'm now ambivalent about this overtime (OT) business. I've gone on record on this bb protesting it never thinking about the fact that a large number of patients may need to benefit from it in the future. I feel that with patient, family, and provider demands and care being as complex as it is, that OT at the bedside should be minimal if not recommended at all.

    The average age of the nurse, this include bedside nurses, is increasing with no relief from the younger population in sight. How many of us really should be working OT, particularly in a rigorous physical and mental job, knowing what our obligations should be to ourselves and our families?

    I fear that if we endorse even overtime(OT) for exceptions on a large scale for bedside nurses, that the employers won't feel obligated to act to improve our pay, working conditions, and other measures of support. I know that nurses and other staff should have a right to work OT if they want. It's been my experience, however, that many who work OT don't necessarily do it out of the goodness of their heart. They want the additional income to help with financial obligations and personal necessities.

    Patients and their families deserve a nurse that is fresh. I don't think that many of us would intentionally exchange dirty linen with another set of dirty linen. You're right when you say there are other ways to address the nursing shortage. Thank you for your remarks.

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NJ Hosp Assoc against NJ Senate bill 2093 baring manditory overtime for RNS