HELP Recyle disabled nurses - page 3

I know that I am not the only nurse who is no longer working as a nurse due to a back injury. In the US, OSHA requires that you be able to lift 50 lbs to work on the floor as a nurse. I can't. My... Read More

  1. by   maah
    mercykitten, You definitely are not alone. I have been on disability for 1 1/2 years do to Fibromyalgia. I can still function. I also can't lift so therefore I was put out on permanent leave of abscence. I am to young to be on disability, the Social Security Dept. wants me do something else besides Nursing. I can still start IV's and other things. All of us Nurses that are disabled should go forces as mattsmom81 suggested, but how do we get everyone together? I talked to a lawyer and was told there was nothing I could do to fight back.
  2. by   zumalong
    This thread is my life!!!! I worked in acute care for 9 years--loved what I was doing, was at the top of clinical ladder--was even developing somewhat of a name for myself in brain injury facilities around NYS. Then my resp status went to the shi**er. I began to get resp inf after resp inf. I was hospitalized 6 times in 3 years. I would return to work and end up as a patient quicker than my coworkers could say welcome back.

    It was avery bleak time in my life. I was frequently encouraged to leave nursing. my md wanted to place me on perm. disability--but I was only 31, and refused. The time to quit occured when I found out I was pregnant. (this was a great thing!!). I left the hosp. and low and behold I became healthy again. I questioned employee health because we had had some work done on the carpet during the winter before I started to get sick. I was shot down. It was nothing to do with my work environment. etc etc.

    Well I was so happy to have a healthy baby and be healthy again myself that I just dropped issue. Fast forward 7 years and I am now dealing with the need for a hip replacement. All the years of predisone have done their work. I am only 39 (until midnight tonight--ulg big 40!! but that is another thread).

    I now teach in an LPN program. Had my associates degree when I started. (in NYS as long as the head instructor has BS degree other RN's can teach and do clinical.) However, the work of walking around in clinical is killing me by the end of the day. Let alone lift. It is so frustrating not being able to do what you want your body to do.

    Mercykitten--If you want to teach you should be able to find something. If you are interested in maintaining patient care why not try some home care??? Their is not usually lifting involved and you can keep up skills and avoid further injury. I tried this for a while--but I am too much a floor nurse. I did not like going to people's houses and dealing with the health ins. companies.

    I don't know how big the area is where you live--but I would look outside of the health care system you are at. They sound like they are not going to utilize the talent you obviously possess. Good luck. Take care.
  3. by   Jenny P
    We are all getting older and are falling apart because we have given our hearts and souls to patient care. Preceptors must be able to lift pts. and therefore have a 40 pound weight restriction on my unit "because we always pitch in and help if something goes wrong." In other words, we will sacrifice our own health to help the patient who is in trouble- -- and to tell the truth, I believe that yes; I would forget that I can't help in a code or other emergency situation.
    Last edit by Jenny P on May 27, '02
  4. by   mercykitten
    Got to get to bed, working 12 hrs. next few nights.
    But wanted to share a quick thought (and will try to respond to previous postings later).
    Is anyone willing to talk to the press about their disablity story? If we could focus public opinion and political sources, we might get somewhere. I have a high level contact at the New York Times. I could go to bat for a story on nurses and disablity, and how the knowledge and experience could still be used. BUT I would need people with their names so a reporter could contact them.
    If you think that you would be willing to do this, please email me.
    Together we can make things better for all nurses.
    Thank you.
    P.s. please put nursing in your subject line so I can tell it is not spam.
  5. by   ratchit
    Last edit by ratchit on Jul 14, '02
  6. by   P_RN
    Yes you need a lawyer more times than not. They get paid 1/3 of any benefit or settlement.

    Yes I have talked to the media.

    Yes I have contacted the BON.

    Oh how I WISH they would have a vote of no confidence on management......

    If wishes were horses, beggars could ride.
  7. by   jevans
    Do you mhave disability laws in the US
    At our unit I have a nurse with MS I've just offered her time to explore light duties ie desk work
  8. by   mercykitten
    Jevans, we do have disability laws in the US. plus all fifty states have different labor and disability laws. About 3 yrs ago, the state of Kentucky (where I live) changed their workers comp laws, greatly limiting the amount of money that a worker receives post injury and also who qualifies.
    The thing is that the laws exist. BUT the disabled worker may have to go to court to get the employer to comply, and to prove that the worker is unable to work. Lawyers cost money. in some small cities and states the lawyers are in the pay of the hospital and there is a conflict of interest that the worker is unaware of. Additionally there is no income for the worker while this drags on for years.
    Your employee was most fortunate that you were treating her fairly.
  9. by   mattsmom81
    Actually, the Americans with Disabilities Act states disabled workers have a lot of rights, and I think a lot of folks don't know about this. We have the right to request a reasonable accomodation.

    I would think particularly since you were injured on the job, Mercykitten, that the hospital's reasonable accomodation for you SHOULD be to waive floating and allow you to stay in either a supervisory role or on pp/womens/babies where lifting is minimal. I had that accomodation but unfortunately still could not handle the overall stress of the job. If you CAN, Mercykitten, my advice is to get aggressive about going after the job you want!

    You're right, if wishes were horses.....PRN! Maybe we need to force the issues more and advocate for better treatment of all injured nurses.

    Mercy, I hope you think about seeing an attorney or getting in touch with govt agencies who can advise you how to proceed and protect your rights under the law. I'm still investigating these myself. Search under Federal Laws protecting employees from discrimination and look for ADA's very interesting stuff and theres a lot of it on the web... At the very least, we can get hospitals in a lot of trouble by reporting them to government agencies for violating the ADA Laws.

    Here's a favorite site of mine:

    I would be glad to tell my story to your reporter (the monitor tech position that 'suddenly' developed a lifting requirement) Let me know how to get in touch with her, or she can email me (as well as the rest of you guys...anytime..I love to hear from nurses)

    Great thread, Mercy kitten!

    :roll :kiss

    And to those of you who know my situation (PRN, Renee) I have decided to focus my energy on trying to qualify for least for now...if I get better in the future I can use Texas Rehab as a resource to get me into something I can do if and when that day comes....WISH ME LUCK, guys as I wade through this government paperwork...
    Last edit by mattsmom81 on May 31, '02
  10. by   discarded APN
    Hi Mattsmom and Mercykitten, I've been lurking on this board and when I found this tread I suddenly don't feel so alone.

    I would like to start an organization for disabled, displaced, discarded nurses that would actually help each other. One that would help locate and pay for attorneys skillful in that dance that employers do. You know the ADA two step, occupational rehab assistance and funds for other training if needed. Maybe we could also become a political lobby group for disabled nurses. I can dream can't I.

    I've been in a battle with my former employer over their decision that they "are not legally obligated to create another position for me", (wasn't asking them to, wanted to continue the non-hands on things I had been doing) that since I have the word "nurse" in my title that the essential functions require that I do hands on patient care and since I am physically unable to do that they "had no alternative other than to terminate employment" I have insurance coverage under the COBRA plan but that will be gone in 11 months and it eats up most of my LTD payments.

    I have experience in a variety of areas, including teaching and research. It seems that once you are disabled you become a "financial liability" to employers. In my research of the ADA I found one study by the federal government that there are actually FEWER disabled people working since the passage of the ADA in 1990. It seems that the cost of reasonable accommodations isn't the big expense. Wheelchair ramps and lower desks are relatively cheap. It turns out that the cost of health insurance and people who actually use the sick time is what most employers want to avoid. Using the health insurance drives those costs up. Employers have found that it's cheaper to terminate these employees and then to pay them off if someone actually challenges them.

    I've noticed that the word "can't" isn't part of the vocabulary of most of the people with disabilities, it's a big word in the vocabulary of administrators and others. I've been banging my head against the wall trying to get people to see what I CAN do and not focus on what THEY THINK I CAN't DO.
    Mercykitten, I would be willing to talk with your contact from the NY Times. I need to clear that with my attorney before I would agree to it though.

    Thanks for listening.
  11. by   mattsmom81
    Welcome, Discarded APN! I enjoyed your post and am sure everyone else will too!

    I'd love to join a support group like this. Perhaps with a united front we can get something accomplished.

    I correspond with a nurse who finally gave up with the title 'nurse' because of what you are saying, Discarded. She finally got the Florida Workers Comp Board to pay to send her back to school for her BSW (social work) where there are NO lifting requirements in the job description.

    Now she works doing essentially the same thing as a nurse case manager.....but for less money as a social worker. She was REFUSED the job of nurse case manager at her hospital...although we all know they don't lift anything heavier than a 3 ring binder. Grrr.

    They use the title nurse and the job description of lifting to hang us.
  12. by   maah
    I agree with you all. I would like to get invovled in a group to help fight the issue of tossed out Nurses do to what we can't do. They do need to look at what we can do. I was let go because I couldn't push a med cart on a new plush pile carpet and I couldn't lift over 50lbs. mattsmom I am on SSD myself I got it immediately after waiting 6 mos. I had all the Dr.s that were invovled in my case send all medical records that pertained to my case. That way Social Security could pick out what they needed. It also saved time by not having a ton of forms to fill out. You can add me to your list of people to talk to NY Times. I live in Mass.
  13. by   discarded APN
    Can someone help me with the decision to apply for SSD. I have long term disability coverage. I can collect that for a total of 60 months. After jumping through all the hoops required to finally collect that, I'm being pushed by the LTD company to get SSD. If I'm successful in getting that, the LTD company will subtract those payments from my LTD payments. It seems that I will be helping the LTD company rather than it really being a benefit for me. The LTD payments are about 60% of my base pay (I have to pay taxes on what they send me, they don't take out any taxes and it is taxable) and I am allowed to work enough (if anybody would hire me, not happening) to make the other 40% before loosing any of the payments.

    Can you earn anything while collecting SSD? At this point would it be worth the hassle to apply for SSD?

    Thanks for your help.