What the AHA thinks of the bill pending in Congress on mandatory OT

  1. This was sent to me by a member of the MNM. I think we should all see the position of the NJ AHA on the bill that would ban mandatory overtime. You can bet the NJ chapter is saying what you will hear from your own state chapters.

    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 pending 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

    IF we as nurses do not speak up this is what we will get.

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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   Speedy1RN
    Think there is a nursing shortage coming?
    Let mandatory overtime pass across the board and there will be a shortage now. Nurses who can afford to will quit, cut back hours or transfer to other facilities. I agree we must speak out together and fight for our rights to prevent such a possibility. Interesting that the article appears to say that yeah nurses are important but the patient is paramount. To a degree, yes. BUT, if you don't take care of yourself, how can you take care of others. We all know of the problems surrounding nursing but I'll throw this out there. (For married people) A study released that marriages suffer when a spouse works more than forty hours in a week. Do you think the people pushing this type of legislation think about this aspect?
    Speak out and speak often!

    [This message has been edited by Speedy1RN (edited March 12, 2001).]
  4. by   PeggyOhio
    I agree! We must stand together and demand that we as a profession be respected. And that includes our free time. Our time away from that horrendous work environment is the only thing that is keeping many of us going.
    Take that away and there will be a mass exodus of the few remaining stoic nurses left. We didn't create this mess and I for one am not going to be worked into the ground to bail out the idiots who did.
  5. by   oramar
    Just keep it up Mr. Gary S. Carter, people like you created this shortage. Keep talking and dig yourself a deeper grave with your own big mouth. Drive out the few people who stayed behind. All the nurses in the Phillipines will not be able to save you.
  6. by   rncountry
    May I suggest that we write to this man and the newspaper this was published in? We all need to start writing to editors of our local papers. We need to make some noise! If we don't you can bet THEIR bottom dollar that what they want is what they will get, AGAIN. While it is important to write your congress and senate, it is even more important to educate the media and the public about what is going to happen to their healthcare if things continue on the same path.
  7. by   rncountry
    sorry, the paper was the NJ Star Ledger.
  8. by   Speedy1RN
    I visited the New Jersey Hospital Association website and found this article dated 3/12/01.
    I plan to do a search to find Joseph Vitale (D)
    email address so we can express our opinions just as NJHA has. Speak out! http://www.njha.com/html/dml.031201.html

    Here is the email address for the editor of the paper:
    Letters to the Editor: Send to Letters to the Editor, 1 Star-Ledger Plaza, Newark, N.J., 07102-1200. E-mail to eletters@starledger.com


    [This message has been edited by Speedy1RN (edited March 13, 2001).]

    Vitale's address: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/html/vitale.htm

    [This message has been edited by Speedy1RN (edited March 13, 2001).]
  9. by   natalie
    Below is copy of email I received from Senator Vitale. Please note last paragraph and suggestion to contact the chair of the Senate budget committee and acting governor.
    -----------------------------------------

    Dear Ms. .....

    Thanks for responding to Gary Carter's ad. Your letter was great. As you
    may know, the legislation that restricts the use of mandatory overtime
    passed unanimously through the Senate Health Committee on Thursday, March
    15, 2001. It was originially scheduled for a vote before the Senate Budget
    and Appropriations Committee yesterday, however, it was pulled off the
    agenda at the last minute.

    I am urging any supporters of this bill to reach out to the Chair of the
    Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Senate President/Acting Governor
    and ask to have this bill posted for a vote as soon as possible.

    I introduced this legislation in response to increased use of mandatory
    overtime as a means of staffing health care facilities. The practice of
    requiring nurses and other health care workers to stay beyond their normal 8
    or 12 hour shifts, sometimes for an additional 6 to 12 hours, places a
    significant burden upon their ability to safely perform duties. As a
    result, serious and deadly medical errors have occurred and its overuse
    continues to threaten the well being of patients and health care workers
    alike. A recent Institute of Medicine report said 98,000 deaths a year are
    due to medical errors.

    Many hospitals and health care facilities have expressed concern about their
    ability to find additional staff during this nursing shortage. A recent
    nationwide poll of nurses and clinical specialists suggests that the
    overutilization of mandatory overtime is a major contributor to the nursing
    shortage. Many exhausted and burned-out health care workers, who simply can
    no longer perform their assignments safely and effectively, have become
    disillusioned and leave the profession.

    To help alleviate the nursing shortage, I have introduced a package of
    legislation designed to bring more health care workers into the industry and
    protect against future shortages. Senate Bill 2204 appropriates $2.3
    million to the College of Nursing at Rutgers University to expand their
    facilities in New Brunswick. This expansion would enable the school to
    attract more students into the nursing program and graduate more qualified
    nurses. Senate Bill 2205 establishes a New Jersey Collaborative Center for
    Nursing that would focus on such areas as nursing education, recruitment,
    retention and utilization of adequately prepared nursing personnel. These
    bills were passed along with the mandatory overtime legislation this past
    Thursday.

    I appreciate your support on this important legislation. I look forward to
    working with you to get this bill passed through both houses and finally
    signed into law. I encourage you to contact Senator Littell and Acting
    Governor DiFrancesco and urge them to move this bill along.

    Hon. Robert Littell, Chair
    Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
    Routes 23 & 517
    PO Box 328
    Franklin, NJ 07416
    (973) 827-2900
    senlittell@njleg.state.nj.us

    Hon. Donald DiFrancesco, Acting Governor
    Governor's Office
    PO Box 001
    State House
    Trenton, NJ 08625
    (609) 292-6000
    sendifrancesco@njleg.state.nj.us

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

    With best wishes,


    Joseph F. Vitale
    Senator, 19th District

  10. by   NurseyK
    I guess I must be reading your posts incorrectly? are you for or against mandatory OT? (key word here folks: MANDATORY)

    I have personally spearheaded a campaign here in NY re: Nursing OT. A pending bill passed the House and is now under review in the Senate. The bill addresses a MAX number of hours a nurse can work in a day. This legislation came about after I wrote every politician in my area, from Assemblyman to the Governor, re: my hospital's practice of mandating nurses to work 20 hr shifts (we ER and the Critical Care nurses work 12 hr shifts and are mandated for an extra 8 hrs if there are call-ins/schedule "holes"/etc).

    Truck drivers can only work 8 hrs a day, medical students even have a cap on their hrs...I'm holding another human being's life in my hands...and you want me to work how many hours in a row? Do you really want me to take care of you or yours if they were involved in a Trauma, in my 19th hour of work? I don't even know my NAME at that time...yet, I'm pushing drugs that could kill you.

    This upcoming bill addresses only MANDATORY OT - not "coming in for a extra shift or 2." Basically, the max is 16 hrs a day (consecutive or non-consecutive) with a minimum of 8-12 hrs off/between shifts; and a max of 60 (or so) hrs/week. Cases of disaster, etc. are going to be excluded (per the latest word, I hear).

    The most frustrating part about the whole process that I have been going thru for the past 2 yrs with this bill: NYSNA and ANA do not...let me repeat that....DO NOT support it. How's that for our "nursing representatives"? Do you know how many times I have repeated the phrase, "Have YOU ever worked a consecutive 20 hr shift in the ER of a busy Trauma center?" "How about a consecutive 20 hr shift, in general, working on HUMAN BEINGS - not shuffling paperwork?" Funny, I never get a response from the paper-pushers after that....

    Even though I will be leaving nursing and attending Medical School this Fall, I hope to continue my crusade to abolish this deplorable practice....Heck, can't accuse me of not "remembering where I came from"...

    Kat

    ------------------
    The grass isn't greener on the other side -- it's just different grass
  11. by   rncountry
    against, definately against. Thank you for your information.
  12. by   Tiara
    Natalie: I did notice that the first paragraphs are personal! Yours mentioned your letter and mine mentioned the press.
    Ha. Maybe his clerks know us!
  13. by   natalie
    NurseyK-

    You'd be hardpressed to find a nurse here that is for mandatory overtime.

    I'm not sure I understand your posting:

    "The most frustrating part about the whole process that I have been going thru for the past 2 yrs with this bill: NYSNA and ANA do not...let me repeat that....DO NOT support it. How's that for our "nursing representatives"? "

    NYSNA and ANA have taken strong stands against mandatory overtime. Are you talking about the senate bill vs the assembly bill in NY?
  14. by   -jt
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by NurseyK:
    [B]
    I have personally spearheaded a campaign here in NY re: Nursing OT. A pending bill passed the House and is now under review in the Senate. The bill addresses a MAX number of hours a nurse can work in a day. The most frustrating part about the whole process that I have been going thru for the past 2 yrs with this bill: NYSNA and ANA do not...let me repeat that....DO NOT support it. How's that for our "nursing representatives>>

    I just participated in NYSNA's lobby day in Albany & ELIMINATING (not restricting) Mandatory OT was the main event. The NYSNA & ANA have a no-tolerance position on mandatory ot, representatives of both gave lectures in Albany on why this must be the only position to have on it - NO Mandatory OT at all. The bill focusing on the NUMBER of hrs to work mandatory OT takes the place of the mandatory OT bill - thus giving the employer the loophole to circumvent around mandatory ot by calling it "on call time" or some other sneaky trick. And still using mandatory ot. It is not supported because of that & because there needs to be ZERO tolerance on any kind of mandatory ot no matter what the employer tries to call it. The following is part of the legislative package we gave to the elected officials in both the Senate & Assembly. You can clearly see where NYSNA stands on OT. I believe they even wrote the mandatory ot bill
    We already are not allowed to work more than 16 hrs. Even if we wanted to volunteer to, we cant..........

    ENSURE SAFE STAFFING - 2001
    RN Solutions to the Nursing Care Crisis

    "Several additional bills are pending and supported by NYSNA to improve staffing ratios.

    ~Senate Bill 117 (hospitals)

    ~Assembly Bill 4171/Senate Bill 2185 (nursing homes)

    End mandatory overtime

    Legislation is needed to prohibit employers from requiring that nurses work overtime to fill gaps in scheduling.

    ~Nurses must not be required to work longer than their regularly scheduled shift.

    ~Licensure regulations need to change to ensure that nurses will not be charged with patient abandonment for refusing mandatory overtime.

    ~Exceptions to the prohibition on mandatory overtime will be permitted in cases of a declared emergency or health crisis.

    ~Short staffing is not to be defined as an emergency.

    ~Bills are pending that restrict mandatory overtime to a maximum number of hours per week. (A2025/S1380) These bills are not supported.

    ~NYSNA advocates zero tolerance for mandatory overtime. Nurses may choose to work additional hours based on their professional judgment.
    http://www.nysna.org/PGA/LEG/POINTS/staffing2001


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