Washington Hospital Center fires 16 for snowstorm absences - page 16

When I read the article, I couldn't help but wonder if it had anything to do with age and the hospital trying to cut costs.... Read More

  1. by   applewhitern
    I have been thru lots of hurricanes here in Florida, and we always have to be in the hospital. You can't just call out. Since it rarely snows here, that usually isn't a problem, but once it did snow, and our hospital told all of us that we could NOT call out. If we were unable to drive, they would send someone to our house to pick us up. Everyone that called out that day, or simply did not show up, were fired. That is usually the way it is, if you work in a hospital. Same for firemen, policemen, paramedics, and the list goes on. Life doesn't stop for snow storms, etc. What if you were a patient and the doctors and nurses stayed home due to a snow storm?
  2. by   Bill E. Rubin
    I'll dig out an old post from 2010:

    Washington Hospital Center fires 16 for snowstorm absences

    In brief, some conditions are impassable. In such conditions, it is good if you can plan ahead and get to work before the impassable conditions occur, if you know they are coming. For some people, that is simply not possible (i,e, those with small children, or elderly dependent relatives, or whatever with no alternate caregivers available).

    Nursing is a team sport. If you know extraordinary conditions will cause travel to be difficult or unsafe for others and you can make yourself available, then do so. It's not much different than any other adverse condition or disaster. Here in Boston, several hospitals were inundated with injured after the Marathon bombing this past April. I was still in orientation on my unit, but I called in anyway to see if I was needed. As it turned out, we had enough coverage and I wasn't needed. Further, I was working the night when the the first of the perps was killed and the massive manhunt was underway for the other one. I had to stay for an additional few hours before the hospital would let us leave at our own risk. Public transit and cab service had been shut down to eliminate a possible escape route, which would seriously hamper people's ability to get to work during the day shift.

    Crazy things happen in this profession, whether it's weather or other disasters that we need to be prepared for. But preparedness does not fall solely on the shoulders of the individual nurse. It's an institutional (and unit-based) issue.

    If your're able to make yourself available in anticipation of a big storm, by all means do so. You can get some overtime pay and be a hero to management and help to fill a staffing need during an emergency. This is where we all need to be professionals and anticipate the need and step up if possible. It isn't always possible for all people at all times, but those that do will be valuable to management and be professional team players. And you will also buy yourself capital for the times when you can't be available in the future. What goes around comes around.

    But if you can't get away early due to some other commitment such as child care or whatever, and thus get stuck in an impassable weather situation, well then any reasonable institution will understand that. If I were to get fired under such circumstances I would seriously be consulting a lawyer. What if you were on vacation and your plane couldn't land due to weather and you're stranded in some other airport or city? Would you be fired then also?

    I have never missed a shift due to weather. I did come to work last year when we had a blizzard of some 18 inches. My shift started at 7pm, but I left a few hours early because:

    A) I could -- my wife and kids were all safely home
    B) I would have been risking not being able to make it to work if I left later
    C) I considered my coworkers on the day shift and thought at least one might like to leave early if they were going home.

    A state of emergency was declared and the roads were all closed (though I could officially drive on them due to my disaster pass). My car being a 20 year old front wheel drive Saturn with all-season tires did limit the amount of snow I could drive through. I ended up staying at the hospital until around 1pm mainly because my road hadn't been plowed yet, so I wouldn't be able to get home even though the main roads were passable (if still officially closed).

    There have been other cases where I have anticipated weather (hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012) and made travel plans accordingly. But if my wife were stuck at work and I were home with my kids, I would have to wait until she got home before I left for work and by then, it might not be possible for me to make it. You do what you can.
    Last edit by Bill E. Rubin on Dec 12, '13 : Reason: clarification
  3. by   miasmom
    I am from a warm area. I had to live in snow country before. Spun out getting to work. I recall sleeping in hospital during a storm they shut down the roads. Airport. Banks. Freaky. I want a warm climate.
  4. by   TU RN
    My manager has been emailing and mass texting RNs on my floor for anticipated staffing shortage this weekend. I'm already scheduled and plan to make it in despite an additional storm on the way. Can't wait to run into a short-handed unit and be run down like a rogue slave for the next 48 hours
  5. by   TerpGal02
    The original article was from what we in the DC Metro area lovingly dubbed "Snowmageddon". If memory serves 2-3 back to back blizzards that each dropped about 2 ft. When it was all said and done there were 4-5 ft of snow on the ground. Roads were impassable for up to 2 weeks in some areas. Which is why this was insane to fire these nurses.

    I was a student then, there was no way anyone who was at home was getting anywhere. The snow was completely covering my car. There was no physical way to drive in it if the road was not plowed. But this is a very, very rare occurance here.

    If it's a normal winter weather event, ya gotta be there. It snowed/sleeting during my shift last evening and I still arrived and left on time, not that the drive home wasn't harrowing. I pass over 2 mountains (really just glorified hills LOL) on the way home and the fog made you not be able to see a foot in front of your face.
  6. by   Pudnluv
    I live in one of the snowiest places in the country. There are only really two times that I can remember where everything was completely shut down and the roads were impassable. Both these times were times where several feet of snow fell in just a few hours. I can remember driving to work when the snow fall was 5 inches an hour. Pretty much everyone makes it in to work during these times. We certainly don't begrudge any nurse who takes their time in these conditions and we are more than willing to stay until they make it in. In the event that we cannot leave, the hospital always provides a bed, shower, and clean pair of scrubs. That is just the way of life in my neck of the woods.