RNs fight for re-hiring support staff

  1. For Immediate Release

    Mary Immaculate nurses to hold protest on March 11
    Lack of support staff is causing decline in bedside care

    photos of the picket can be viewed at NYSNA's website

    Queens, NY March 7, 2003-Registered nurses at Mary Immaculate Hospital are demanding the facility's parent corporation "loosen the purse strings" and restore crucial support staff.

    For more than a year, Saint Vincents Catholic Medical Center network in Manhattan has reduced funding for the Jamaica facility, which resulted in a severe cutback in support staff. Without anyone to perform support duties, nurses have had no choice but to leave their units to transport patients, pick up medications at the pharmacy, and do clerical work. These additional duties take away from nurses' time with patients and threaten the quality of patient care. Once they are faced with such frustrating conditions, many nurses leave soon after orientation.

    "The bottom line is that Saint Vincents administration needs to replace the support staff they laid off at Mary Immaculate and add more staff throughout this facility," said Maria Flores, nursing representative for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), collective bargaining agent for the 261 RNs. "We've filed class-action grievances and the State Health Department strongly advised Saint Vincents to make improvements. But we haven't seen any yet."

    As a result, the nurses will conduct an informational picket from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in front of the hospital at 152-11 89th Ave. in Jamaica.

    The nurses have been working without a contract since Jan. 31.

    During this round of negotiations, the nurses are seeking to formally incorporate into the contract safe staffing ratios that were developed and implemented during the past two years. Because these ratios include provisions for support staff, the hospital already is in violation.

    Resistance from Saint Vincents administration isn't anything new. During negotiations two years ago, Saint Vincents wouldn't discuss safe staffing at Mary Immaculate for several months. As a last resort, the nurses were forced to take a strike vote. But before the strike notice was actually served, a settlement was reached in which a joint labor-management committee would be established to develop ratios that would be legally enforceable through third-party arbitration.

    Nurses are also seeking to ensure that Mary Immaculate remains competitive in the RN job market. "Although Saint Vincents has authorized a salary increase of 3% for each of three years, it is refusing to provide Mary Immaculate with additional funding for a health plan to cover retirees and to increase additional pay for experience and for working evenings and nights," said Brian McNally, NYSNA labor representative. "However, Saint Vincents' main facility in Manhattan is already providing these benefits" for nurses there.

    "Registered Nurses are the backbone of this facility," Flores said. "But with working conditions as they are now this hospital can't recruit and retain nurses. Mary Immaculate has a mission to care for the poor, but Saint Vincents is not allowing it to fulfill this mission."

    This will not be tolerated by Mary Immaculate nurses.

    Watch for further updates on this situation.

    NYSNA is the professional association for registered nurses in New York with more than 34,000 members statewide. A multipurpose organization, NYSNA fosters high standards of nursing education and practice and works to advance the profession through legislative activity and collective bargaining. NYSNA is a constituent of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and its labor arm, the United American Nurses (UAN), which is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

    Contact: Mark Genovese: 518.782.9400, ext. 353
    http://www.NYSNA.org
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   sjoe
    "nurses have had no choice but to leave their units to transport patients, pick up medications at the pharmacy, and do clerical work."

    WRONG. They DO have a choice, but as long as they CHOOSE to fill in the gaps left by incompetent managment, why should anything change?

    If they would, on the other hand, CHOOSE to stick strictly to their job descriptions, refusing ALL non-nursing duties and refusing ALL requests for overtime, "extra effort," etc., maybe management would have to hire the necessary support staff.

    Anyone who doesn't CHOOSE to set appropriate boundaries and limits can count on getting screwed--with no sympathy from me.

    I say again:
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 15, '03
  4. by   -jt
    Totally agree. But its hard to do because the nurses is left holding the bag anyway. If you are given a direct order by your supervisor to help transport your pt to CT scan or anything else that doesnt endanger you or that pt, and you outright refuse, that is insubordination and there are consequences to that which a lot of nurses dont want to have to deal with. If the MD orders a stat drug and there is no messenger to bring it stat and it takes a few hrs for it to get to the pt, the RN "failed" to follow the MDs order, & could be reported to the state board besides being diciplined by the employer. If she calls the supervisor to inform her that there is no one to bring her the med stat and the supervisor tells her to go get, she has to do as ordered. And file the protest form to document what has been happening. In the meantime, they are stuck between a rock & a hard place & running all over because the hospital wont fix its system. They dont have to be doing housekeeping or clerical work but for anything that directly affects the pt, they can be held responsible if they refuse the supervisors direct order or if the pt doesnt receive the care he was supposed to get in a timely fashion. Thats where they get us.
  5. by   sjoe
    "If you are given a direct order by your supervisor to help transport your pt to CT scan or anything else that doesnt endanger you or that pt, and you outright refuse, that is insubordination and there are consequences to that which a lot of nurses dont want to have to deal with." etc.

    NOT if the nurse job description does not include doing these other tasks. What if the nurse supervisor or doc ordered the nurse to wash and wax her/his car? Give me a break. Nurses need to set, and enforce, clear limits and boundaries instead of behaving as slaves and hand-maidens to anyone with the brass to order them around.

    What is the union doing about that issue? They need to go on strike instead of "enabling" this kind of dysfunctional management, IMHO. If a strike doesn't work, a mass resignation is in order whatever the union might think about that.

    Otherwise, don't whine about it. I see no point in enabling CHOSEN "victimhood." The fact remains:
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 16, '03
  6. by   teeituptom
    What good are unions

    let me know if they do strike

    I could use some more strike pay
  7. by   dianthe1013
    Originally posted by sjoe
    NOT if the nurse job description does not include doing these other tasks.
    Actually, most job descriptions include an elastic clause meant to be a catch-all for "whatever else" management might want you to do. Washing/waxing a car is ridiculous and no sane person would expect you to do it, but going to pick up a stat med? That's not beyond the bounds of reason; it's just something that should be done by someone else.

    Donna

    (edited because I am a moron who can't use BB tags correctly...)

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