Saving the hospital

  1. Some of you might remember a desperate message I posted last fall entitled, "How can we save our hospital?" I detailed the horrible and unsafe conditions in which we were working, a truly filthy environment, rusted and pitted surgical instruments, no charge nurses or nurse managers, a truly psychotic CEO who counts every cent and chooses to put it in her own pocket instead of patient care or employee safety. For over 10 years she has run our small facility into the ground, boasting the whole time that she was operating in the black. The Board members, who include a judge and several local attorneys and business people, all seemed to love her, as she was showing a profit, and it looks good on their CV's to be on the Board. In the meantime, the CEO was making a salary of $200,000/year while 95% of our patients are either too old or too poor to get a ride to the nearest city hospital 40 miles away. We actually completed surgeries on 2 occasions holding flashlights because the ancient generator failed to kick in during power failures. I could tell you stories about our working conditions that would turn your blood to ice. Our nursing turnover has been tremendous because of unsafe conditions, and those of us who stayed only did so because we were able to institute a powerful Union to protect ourselves from this woman.

    The response I got from that message I posted last fall has been instrumental in turning our hospital around. Most of you said,"Get out, save your license.!" That was not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to affect a change, and that could not happen from afar. A few of you advised me to go to the State for help, and that is what I did. In October, I drafted an 8 page letter of complaint to the State of Michigan Board of Health Systems, which was co-signed by 33 frightened co-workers. In January one lone investigator arrived, and she was so appallled by the condition of the hospital that she stayed for 3 days. Within 2 weeks, the media got a hold of the story, and suddenly our hospital started shining. New equipment started pouring into the OR, our meager staff of housekeepers doubled in number, our maintenance crew started working, it was incredible. We even got a reliable heating system in OB.

    It gets better. This week, the federal Medicare team arrived to investigate every nook and cranny of our facility. No longer can this one woman rule us, and demand we give sub-standard care. I will no longer be managing an OR without a crash cart, or trying to do a recovery in a room with no reversal drugs. Our hospital is now an SMI, a state monitored institution, (and will be so for the next 3 years) and that CEO is history. She is just too stupid to realize it yet.

    Some of the doctors are angry, and frightened for their livelihoods. There has been much concern that the state would close us down. Yet no one can deny how much better everything is, safer for patient and staff alike.

    We CAN make a difference, We are only limited by fear and indecision. I was a staff nurse ready to bail, now I am OR manager, and a force to be reckoned with. Nurses are awesome and I am so proud to be one.
  2. Visit VictoriaG profile page

    About VictoriaG

    Joined: Jul '99; Posts: 54; Likes: 2
    OR charge nurse


  3. by   Jenny P
    Victoria, I salute you! I went back and read your first thread about this hospital (since I seem to have missed reading it back then), and am impressed with where you started from. You go, girl!


    As you say yourself, some of the people on the Hospital Board were judges and attorneys; and some of the docs are angry and frightened. Some of these people may have more political power than they should; continue to CYA and document, document, document! You may need a strong backbone to deal with some of these people within the local community.

    Be sure to keep following through with the State Health Department and Medicare/ Medicaid.

    Again, I salute you! Congratulations on a job well done!
  4. by   babsRN
    You're awesome Victoria!! I'm sorry to say I didn't see the original post, reading your story gives me chill bumps and makes me proud of your courage and perseverence. We can and do make a difference. Thank you for taking the path less traveled...
  5. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    A true warrior for doing the right thing even at the risk of your own livelihood! You are an inspiration. I hope others learn from your commitment and gutz!
  6. by   NRSKarenRN
    Original thread:

    What an empowering feeling it must be to know you have helped change this situation. Great inspiration for all nurses. There is power in numbers!
    Please keep sharing what you have learned,
  7. by   Zee_RN
    This is awesome. I am so impressed. It brings hope to my heart that we can make a difference! You make me proud to be called a nurse.

    There are no adequate words to express how truly impressive what you have accomplished is.
  8. by   CATHYW
    all it takes is one person who cares, and will stnad up for what is right! of course, it takes serious courage to go against the flow. just keep doing what you know is right for yourself and your patients.

    i read this saying in a newspaper when i was a teenager:
    "behold the turtle. he only makes progress when he sticks his neck out."
  9. by   VictoriaG
    Your support brings tears to my eyes. It has been a rough road. I have been the interim OR manager since September when the former manager walked out in frustration after she was suspended for 3 days for showing the surgeons the appalling condition of Cental Supply. There was actually a wall crumbling with mold and mildew everywhere. I was not prepared for the job as manager, having had no management experience, and less than 3 years surgery experience. In February, 2 weeks after the state investigator showed up, I was injured in a car accident and unable to walk. Four days later, my two lone nurses and one of the three scrub techs walked out and called the media. There were literally no OR nurses in the only hospital in our county, in a town that hosts 6 prisons.

    Two weeks later, barely able to walk, I went back to pick up the pieces. In my absence, every instrument and piece of equipment that was pitted or rusted was trashed, and I quickly learned the art of wheeling and dealing with reps. I was lucky to have an overpoweringly aggressive agency nurse for 4 weeks who guided me through.

    I was an L&D nurse in a major teaching hospital for 8 years before I came to this small place to learn a new specialty. In 3 years I have learned more about the capability of nurses than I ever imagined possible. I have learned so many skills, juggled so many different tasks; it seems quite amazing to me. This little hospital has done much for me, and, for the first time in my life, I have given something back.
  10. by   l-andre
    Victoria, you're an amazing person. Thanks for this board to make us meet such great people! Keep on! We're all with you and very proud to be.
  11. by   kaylynn
    Thanks for sharing this and hopefully giving others the courage to follow in your footsteps.
  12. by   Cubby
    I have a new hero. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Victoria. You are one in a million.
  13. by   RNforLongTime
    Wow! You are Awesome Victoria! Congratulations!
  14. by   P_RN
    I had wondered what came of this. I was one who told you to get out, and I'm now happy to say I was wrong.

    However in my own defense I also recommended you to call the media etc. You are a true advocate. Thank you for doing what was right and not what was the most comfortable.