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Hospital Terminating RNs for Travel Nursing

Disasters   (3,242 Views | 20 Replies)

traumaqueen1993 has 2 years experience and specializes in Emergency Room.

148 Profile Views; 3 Posts

My hospital is implementing new policy that states that any nurse who wishes to take a temporary travel assignment for Covid-19 relief in hot spots will be terminated. As if that isn’t enough, they’re making those nurses ineligible for rehire if they resign appropriately. We are in a small city with about 300 cases thus far. Our hours are being cut, bonuses and raises will not be distributed this year, and we are expected to perform with dwindling PPE. I feel that it is completely unethical to deal such extreme consequences for nurses who want to 1) help those who are in dire need, and 2) maintain a comparable income to pre-covid.

I’m curious to hear about what other hospitals in low-risk zones are doing about nurses wanting to participate in relief efforts. I would also like to know how one would go about fighting this while remaining anonymous to the establishment for which I work.

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A Hit With The Ladies has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych.

173 Posts; 1,160 Profile Views

Ah, so it's the classic "carrots and sticks" approach, but since they can't afford to pay you with carrots (I.e., pay raises and hazard pay), they have turned to sticks (I.e., threat of immediate termination + non-rehire) in a vain attempt to ward off attrition of their staff.

If I were you I'd get that other job (whether it be travel nursing or not) and kiss this place good-bye. Time to play hardball. Your hospital can either buckle up and pay their workers competitive wages, even if it means their board has to take their own pay cuts, or it can see if it can run a hospital without nurses staffing it.

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ICUman has 5 years experience and specializes in Cardiac Cath Lab.

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Jeez. That is really crappy. I just signed. I work for two different hospital systems and they both agreed to give me time off for a 6 week assignment. It wasn't an issue.

Your employer sounds like a real gem. I am grateful that I work at a unionized hospital. That would never fly under our contract.

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dinah77 has 8 years experience as a ADN and specializes in Tele, OB, public health.

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18 minutes ago, ICUman said:

Jeez. That is really crappy. I just signed for a Southern California Covid-19 assignment. I work for two different hospital systems and they both agreed to give me time off for a 6 week assignment. It wasn't an issue.

Your employer sounds like a real gem. I am grateful that I work at a unionized hospital. That would never fly under our contract.

The keywords here being a union hospital. I'm a broken record right now, but I can't believe that there are still non-union hospitals anywhere. For god's sake nurses, organize!

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A Hit With The Ladies has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych.

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I'm actually a union member (TSEU) in Houston. It's a state hospital system so I don't have to work about retaliation or anything like that. Union culture unfortunately isn't that big (yet) here in Texas, though. It would be so nice if all my co-workers could also be unionized.

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traumaqueen1993 has 2 years experience and specializes in Emergency Room.

3 Posts; 148 Profile Views

38 minutes ago, A Hit With The Ladies said:

I'm actually a union member (TSEU) in Houston. It's a state hospital system so I don't have to work about retaliation or anything like that. Union culture unfortunately isn't that big (yet) here in Texas, though. It would be so nice if all my co-workers could also be unionized.

I’m trying to figure out how to join a union on my own in order to fight this. Is that an option or do I just have to deal with it? This isn’t OK and I want to do something about it!

41 minutes ago, dinah77 said:

The keywords here being a union hospital. I'm a broken record right now, but I can't believe that there are still non-union hospitals anywhere. For god's sake nurses, organize!

So I’m not crazy for thinking this is totally unethical? It has to be in violation of some labor law.

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A Hit With The Ladies has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych.

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Federal law protects you from joining a union and organizing. The National Nurses United (NNU) is one of the largest and most powerful, but doesn't have a presence in my area. I joined TSEU because they represent Texas public sector employees.

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Swellz has 6 years experience and specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown.

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With everything that is going on, I got an email from my health system that basically says "union = bad". Obviously its coded language, but that was the bottom line. It's Florida, so it's not like there's a union culture down here, but if you're so sure you're taking good care of us, why do you feel you need to send that email?

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A Hit With The Ladies has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Psych.

173 Posts; 1,160 Profile Views

I've heard it's worst in Florida than nearly anywhere else for nurses. I've heard horror stories about how big for-profits like HCA and other systems staff, and unlike states like Texas and California there isn't a nursing shortage in Florida (for some reason) so the healthcare execs have more leverage to exploit nurses!

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adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

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5 hours ago, traumaqueen1993 said:

I would also like to know how one would go about fighting this while remaining anonymous to the establishment for which I work.

Maybe take it to the media? If you get found out you will almost certainly be fired, but it seems like most of the networks are protecting their anonymous sources due to a fear of retaliation.

3 hours ago, traumaqueen1993 said:

I’m trying to figure out how to join a union on my own in order to fight this. Is that an option or do I just have to deal with it?

You can't really just join someone else's union. You could try to form your own, but again, you'd almost certainly be fired unless you can get enough buy-in from other people right away.

I don't agree, but I get why hospitals are doing this. Even the union hospitals I've worked for have had a clause that you can't take personal leave to go on travel assignments. You may be cancelled or put on call today, but there could be a surge tomorrow or next week, and they'll be screwed if there's nobody still there to staff. What happens if they decide you need to come in tomorrow, and you're in New York? In addition, if you're going back and forth between COVID-19 hotspots and your current hospital, you could very well bring the virus back with you and infect their patients/staff (especially given the national PPE shortages).

It sucks, but I don't think they're doing it just to spite you. Realistically, your best bet is to decide whether or not you're willing to stay at this place long-term. If not, then screw it, give your notice, and go travel.

Edited by adventure_rn

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traumaqueen1993 has 2 years experience and specializes in Emergency Room.

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23 minutes ago, adventure_rn said:

Maybe take it to the media? If you get found out you will almost certainly be fired, but it seems like most of the networks are protecting their anonymous sources due to a fear of retaliation.

You can't really just join someone else's union. You could try to form your own, but again, you'd almost certainly be fired unless you can get enough buy-in from other people right away.

I don't agree, but I get why hospitals are doing this. Even the union hospitals I've worked for have had a clause that you can't take personal leave to go on travel assignments. You may be cancelled or put on call today, but there could be a surge tomorrow or next week, and they'll be screwed if there's nobody still there to staff. What happens if they decide you need to come in tomorrow, and you're in New York? In addition, if you're going back and forth between COVID-19 hotspots and your current hospital, you could very well bring the virus back with you and infect their patients/staff (especially given the national PPE shortages).

It sucks, but I don't think they're doing it just to spite you. Realistically, your best bet is to decide whether or not you're willing to stay at this place long-term. If not, then screw it, give your notice, and go travel.

I appreciate your unbiased opinion, really. This is all new, so I don’t really know how to react to it. All I know is that I feel like I’m being treated as an expendable employee that is expected to fulfill duties regardless of the circumstances, and that angers me. I did reach out to our local news stations, so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.

They’re expecting our surge to be mid to late May, so that would give at least a handful of nurses who don’t have an income at the moment to take a short travel assignment. They could stagger deployments in a way that would still allow for sufficient staffing, especially since so many aren’t even working at the moment and they are all training in ICUs. And, we’re not getting slammed right now with the 300+ cases we have in our area. We had 20 new cases each day for three days, and it has been trending down for the past few days.

I get the reasoning behind it, but the way the information has been delivered feels very controlling and insulting; it goes against everything that nursing stands for.

This is off topic, but perhaps I can gain some insight anyway: As far as long-term travel nursing, I’m afraid to make that transition permanently. I’m a single mom to a preschooler, so I don’t know if that’s even feasible. I think I would be able to find travel assignments in areas that are nearby once all of this is over with, so maybe it’s a realistic option. Are benefits effective immediately after contracting? Are there resources for child care?

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adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

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26 minutes ago, traumaqueen1993 said:

This is off topic, but perhaps I can gain some insight anyway: As far as long-term travel nursing, I’m afraid to make that transition permanently. I’m a single mom to a preschooler, so I don’t know if that’s even feasible. I think I would be able to find travel assignments in areas that are nearby once all of this is over with, so maybe it’s a realistic option. Are benefits effective immediately after contracting? Are there resources for child care?

Those would be excellent questions for @NedRN on the travel nursing forum. I haven't traveled, but my understanding is that it might be tricky as a single parent, although there may be some creative ways to make it happen that I've never considered.

Your feelings are definitely valid, and it does really stink to feel as though your employer doesn't have your best interest at heart. Even if traveling doesn't work out long-term, maybe you could quit your job now, travel in the interim, and then find a better, more supportive long-term job.

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