FYI: Abandonment and Short Staffing

  1. I was fired Jan. 14, 2004 and have only had two jobs since then, working approx. 8 months since that day.A situation that will haunt me the rest of my life.This not only has affected me, but my family also. I went from making 80,000.00 a yr., to 1,800.00 (the first year) and 10,500.00(this last yr.)I've been a LPN for 8 yrs. now ,:uhoh21: and Love my job, no matter how stressful it may get.I take pride in what I do and feel I do A Very Good job at it.I am eager to learn something new everyday.This was in a LTC facility that has approx.85-95 res. at all times. Also having rehab. pt's. - oncology- alzheimers-and skilled pt's..We had been (we will call it CHALLENGED),short staffed for approx. 3 months. Maybe not everyday but at least 4 out of 7. It was getting so bad at times that family members would be helping pass the breakfast trays, not just their family,but others.We followed our chain of command, and was not gettin results. We worked long hours and at times past the time able to work in a 24 hour time frame.Administration started to tell family's that we were the reason why pressure wounds had increased State had entered several differant timesand still we remained CHALLENGED.One morning I was passing meds when a family member needed help and got very angery because the CNA had informed her that her mother would have to lay in feces.Because it was a state law to wait till after serving all res. on the floor and they all have been fed.This is has always been a issue everywhere I've worked. This is a dignity issue,and that res. has the right to be clean and dry.I had 44 res. with two CNA'S and a QMA and another LPN.After I started med pass ,lights where a buzzing, res. were yelling, trying to get up, wanting to go to restroom,alarms going off,and phone ringing.I was at my last straw. "WE"I, and 5 CNA's , 1 QMA, 1 other LPN. spoke breifly, and decided enough was enough. "WE" decided to notify the Media, TV and local newspaper. They meet us at front doors . Making sure a cna and/or nurse was on floors at all times.We discussed the poss. of being terminated,but proceeded. Only being out there approx.5 minutes the DON had been informed of what was taking place.She then asked us if we were on the clock? WE informed her we were on break(1st. 15 min. break). She then proceeded to tell us we could all clock out and go home. I asked DON if she had just fired us on camera, and she said "YES". Media was told to leave or police would be called. We were walked to time clock. I informed ADM. that the supervisor would not count narc's with me and I needed someone to count with so I was not charged with adbandonment.We were all sent cert. letters stating "we would all have to sign a paper stating we would not walk out and abandonment the res. AGAIN and we would come back with NO stipulations.Well 5 of the employees signed. One we never seen again and I sit here now telling my "Whisleblowing"story.I was NOT signing a letter that was stating I adbandoded my pt's. We were contacted by the United Steelworkers of America". We meet with them and informed of our rights and decided to let them help us and file charges against BHNRC to the NLRB. We have won the case twice and continues in appeals court at this time. The NLRB ask for back wages,are jobs back,etc..$) hrs. a week with 10 hours overtime a week (related to past work/an amount of hours I had been working.)Its been two and a half years. The ADM. was fired immediately and the united steelworkers proceeded to do what they do. There has been two union campaigns,losing them both.We had NO intentions of unionizing.We were only trying to make the staffing ratios a issue and have them corrected.We were only trying to help our pt's.,trying to get more help.Also covering our own "ass". When we have "in house " wounds,and getting lectured dly on how to prevent them,and it was the staffs neglect,we decided to take a stand for our rights, let alone the pt's rights.My lie has been affected termindiously!!We were accussed walking out,trying to unionize,and basically marked or blackballed from nursing.!! (that is how I feel I was labeled.)I moved in another state even,but still follows me to this day.It's not like I can get around it. I worked at that facility for the past 4 yrs on and off . I moved away then returned three times.Why would they hire me back if I was such a bad employee?I had also worked for their sister facility in another state,during my 8 yrs.of my nursing career.{FYI:I had went thru a divorce 4 yrs. ago and have moved several times related to financial problems.}My three sons an I went from 80,000.00 a yr(combined wages)to like I said 1800.00 a yr..I dont't think the public realizes how this has and is affecting my family?I recently had started my 2nd job since 1-14-2004, worked for approx. 2 an half months. Then one day before clocking in was informed ADM. needed to speak with me. I was then told by a corperate employee I had lied on my applications. he said, I had failed to give info on 2 of the facilities I had worked with.and they all three were sister facilities.I did not realize when applying they were an EXTENDEDCARE Facility, which had been changed/sold to or whatever. I informed him I had put my last approx.5 yrs. experience down,and which one of them was BHNRC. I ask if DON had checked my references?Because this was falcility where it all took place.He then told me she did check them and nothing was said. Well the following week she was fired!!!My intentions were from the my heart, I was thinking of my pt's.rights to be treated as humans. to be treated how you would want your Mom ,Dad, Grandma/grandpa or son/dtr. to be treated.So when DON's , ADM.,staffing cord.and etc.look at my appl. or me they see a trouble maker, a threat to them, a unionizer and someone who is not reliable.Someone who might walk out. NOT!!! I AM A HUMANBEING WITH RIGHTS,A DAMN GOOD NURSEAN A EXCELLANT WORKER!I LOVE MY JOB. I LOVE DOING FOR OTHERS ,I LOVE THE CHALLENGE(OF NURSING NOT STAFFING). WILL I EVER WAKE UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE??? SOMEONE PLEASE WAKE ME.ANYONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS??iT IS SUCH A SHAME I SIT HERE WITH A NURSES LICENSESDOING NOTHING WHEN THE SAME OL' **** IS HAPPENING IN YOUR TOWN.
    •  
  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   Judee Smudee
    Quote from SUBQ
    Hey:

    I just quit my job in 1-2000. I was tired of having my license being put at risk--so I quit.

    I came to work and was assigned 12 heavy patients. The normal is 8. They refused to bring in help. Therefore, I quit.

    I flat out REFUSED the assignment.

    The bottom line:

    If you accept the assignment, you can and will be held accountable for those patients.

    If you can't take care of the patients, you better walk...it is better to lose your job than it is to lose your license; or worse, a patients life.
    I experienced similar situation. Had 12 patients, manager promised it would not happen again. Next time I worked had 11 patients. Never set foot in the place again.
  4. by   veegeern
    Quote from Navy Nurse
    Even under "Safe Haven" you can be sued in civil court. I have seen it used a few times in my career.
    You can also file variance reoprts with your risk manager. The hospital has to answer these and can be especially useful when inspectors are coming through.
    Under what circumstances would you consider filing a variance report?
  5. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Oops- I posted in the wrong thread.
    Last edit by Hellllllo Nurse on Dec 2, '06
  6. by   Sheri257
    Quote from nurseaaron
    In TX we have this wonderful thing called "Safe Harbor." If at anytime, before or after you start your shift, if you feel that your pt load is unsafe or jeapordizes your license, filing this protects your license. It is set up to protect the nurse from losing their license but not liability. It is illegal to take action against a nurse who has filed safe harbor and hospitals do not want them to file. Mention these words in TX and watch them jump to cater the staffing needs. FYI. ONly heard of it being filed one time in my 3 yrs experience.
    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but .... I thought I'd read posts from Texas nurses who thought safe harbour was a joke ... mostly because Texas is an "at will" state where you can be fired for pretty much anything. Some of them said they'd seen nurses get fired for safe harbour, even though technically the hospital claimed it was for something else.

    In California, you can't be fired without cause. And, we have the ratio law which prevents a lot of this stuff from happening. But, you can also protest getting too many high acuity patients within those ratios. If you file an incident report protesting the assignment, and something bad happens ... the liability comes back on the facility, not you, as long as you've filed that report.

    Also ... if somebody calls out sick when you've already put in a 12 hour shift, you can give them fours notice in writing that you will not be safe after 16 hours. If they don't find a replacement within those four hours, you can leave and not be charged with patient abandonment by the board.

    :typing
  7. by   jojotoo
    [quote=lizz;1950657
    In California, you can't be fired without cause. And, we have the ratio law which prevents a lot of this stuff from happening. But, you can also protest getting too many high acuity patients within those ratios. If you file an incident report protesting the assignment, and something bad happens ... the liability comes back on the facility, not you, as long as you've filed that report.
    :typing[/quote]


    I work in California and my hospital is out of ratio EVERY SHIFT. I'm not aware that there are any penalties.
  8. by   gitterbug
    being a good nurse and being a good employee is not the same thing. I am so sorry for your pain, your loss of income, and for being made to feel like you did something wrong. Thee are times there is no good solution to a problem, we make the best of bad situations until we are forced to take a stand. You took a stand and paid dearly. I do not have an answer for you but I will pray for a bright light at the end of a tunnel for you and your sons.
  9. by   vamedic4
    Quote from gitterbug
    being a good nurse and being a good employee is not the same thing. I am so sorry for your pain, your loss of income, and for being made to feel like you did something wrong. Thee are times there is no good solution to a problem, we make the best of bad situations until we are forced to take a stand. You took a stand and paid dearly. I do not have an answer for you but I will pray for a bright light at the end of a tunnel for you and your sons.

    :yeahthat: :yeahthat: :yeahthat:

    Thank you for your dedication to your patients. Let's hope that one day, either you or someone like you will be in a position of leadership and be able to change this all too frequent occurrence. All the best to you and your family.

    vamedic4
    It snowed in Texas.
  10. by   Simplepleasures
    Quote from gitterbug
    being a good nurse and being a good employee is not the same thing. I am so sorry for your pain, your loss of income, and for being made to feel like you did something wrong. Thee are times there is no good solution to a problem, we make the best of bad situations until we are forced to take a stand. You took a stand and paid dearly. I do not have an answer for you but I will pray for a bright light at the end of a tunnel for you and your sons.
    WOW OH WOW,what I dont quite understand is WHY on Gods green earth was the union NOT voted in twice??Did the employees of that facility not see what happens to healthcare workers who take a stand?That is just plain stupidity in my opinion only. When you make a complaint with the NLRB it is usually because of complaining about work conditions for the employees ( not meant for complaints about patient care).When employees get together for a mutual cause, it is known as a "protected concerted activity". Would you and your co workers have known that as non unionized workers you actually did have protection under the NLRB? I guess it was a very good thing that the union showed up and helped you guys out.

    In my state there is a law that protects health care workers who complain about patient issues , then get fired or disciplined in retaliation. It is called the Wisconsin Healthcare Worker Retaliation Protection Act. I assume there was no such law in your state at the time.Did any of you ever seek legal councel on your own apart from the union?

    Your actions were noble ,BUT when up against a multi billion dollar industry, such as the LTC industry and their lawyers, a small group of ethical folks dont have a chance in **** to affect change, This is why I continue to be such a strong advocate for STRONG unions.

    Speaking from my own personal experience and from some postings of other nurses who tried to fight the LTC beast, DO NOT even attempt this unless you have already made up your mind you dont ever want to work in the field again. You will be FIRED and then blackballed, ( proving this type of blackballing is very hard to do in court unles you hire a company that actually calls your old employer to try to get them to give you a bad reference , they get it on tape , and then you can bring forth a lawsuit.)
    When I took my stand and was promptly fired for it I knew that it would get me fired and luckily I was at a point in my life that I really did not care and did not plan on staying in the field much longer anyway, for reasons of health.

    Well, the television station got a good story, but the rest of you LOST bigtime it appears.Moral to this story-DONT ATTEMPT THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE A STRONG UNION BACKING YOU or you dont really care if you ever work in the field again.In the mean time the LTC's continue to get away with providing substandard care,and firing their staff at will. Unless you get lucky and find yourself a in a "protected class"( race, religion, whistleblower with a state law to back you up,age , FMLA, etc.)you wont even be able to sue them. Another example of how much we put ourselves at risk personally, financially and professionally, while in this noble profession.:selfbonk:
    Last edit by Simplepleasures on Dec 2, '06
  11. by   Sheri257
    Quote from jojotoo
    I work in California and my hospital is out of ratio EVERY SHIFT. I'm not aware that there are any penalties.
    There may not be any penalties (although I thought I read that the union had proposed a bill to change this ....)

    But, they can lose their Medicare and MediCal funding if they're consistantly violating state laws and regulations.

    Has anybody complained about this? Do you guys have a union to report this to?

    :typing
  12. by   Poochee
    I have been on your situation, 4 nurses, LPN's mostly, to staff a 100 bed/ 4wing, LTCF. With rehab, TPN, step-down. I quit, 33 pt's on NOC, overworked CNA's. I thought of my precious license, and said see ya later. They begged me to come back, offerred diff. positions, I was No, No, and No. Nursing homes in the US sucks, unless your rich. Til this day, I wont set foot in one. I feel sorry for the patients, i love them, they deserve better. I was yelled at for, "sending folks out" too much. Oh well. I feel sorry for you, that sure was past brave to call the media, whew, I couldn't have done it. I would have quit, and anonusmously called the state board. I feel so bad for you, you are probably an astute nurse, being railroaded by the big industry.
  13. by   Retired R.N.
    Quote from lizz
    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but .... I thought I'd read posts from Texas nurses who thought safe harbour was a joke ... mostly because Texas is an "at will" state where you can be fired for pretty much anything. Some of them said they'd seen nurses get fired for safe harbour, even though technically the hospital claimed it was for something else.
    According to everyone I've ever talked with who has had personal experience with it, invoking Safe Harbor is an invitation to your employer to replace you as soon as possible. If you happen to be working for an organization that is a member of Group One, don't even think about working at any other Group One facility whether it be located in the DFW area or somewhere else in the country.
  14. by   twotrees2
    Quote from lizz
    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong but .... I thought I'd read posts from Texas nurses who thought safe harbour was a joke ... mostly because Texas is an "at will" state where you can be fired for pretty much anything. Some of them said they'd seen nurses get fired for safe harbour, even though technically the hospital claimed it was for something else.

    In California, you can't be fired without cause. And, we have the ratio law which prevents a lot of this stuff from happening. But, you can also protest getting too many high acuity patients within those ratios. If you file an incident report protesting the assignment, and something bad happens ... the liability comes back on the facility, not you, as long as you've filed that report.

    Also ... if somebody calls out sick when you've already put in a 12 hour shift, you can give them fours notice in writing that you will not be safe after 16 hours. If they don't find a replacement within those four hours, you can leave and not be charged with patient abandonment by the board.

    :typing
    hmmmm - wonder if this could work in any state - ie the incident report - if nothing else if you make one and hand it in with witness and keep a copy there would be some sort of paper trail if anything should happen - may not protect me but may at least make the facilty accountable also for the short staffing - gonna try this - thanks

close