July 10, 2007
I'm sure that I'm not working at the only hospital in the world that's having problems with having enough staff, but man does it suck. About 6 months ago. the administrative board decided to look at ways to try and help with the budget. They considered closing the pediactric unit, which is part of OB (nursery, Peds, L&D and mother-baby) and putting the few peds patients we have on the medical unit. Our average census in peds is 2, but in the winter it's usually about 6. The other hospital across town had done this, and the pediatricians now send most of their kids to my hospital, unless it's an insurance matter. Anyway, there was a huge backlash from the MD's, staff and the community, and the board then said that it was just a rumor and that they were'nt closing peds. That was all fine and dandy, but by the time they said it was just a rumor, we had lost several nurses. (our nurses work 2 areas, so not only did we lose peds RNs, they also worked nursery and mother-baby). At that time, we were in Feb-March and people who hadn't worked in peds for years were forced to work peds b/c of the short staff. Then they quit. Then we became even more short staffed with some nights RN's having 3 or more patients than the supposed max patient load, and more people quit. I'm sure the patients noticed when it takes us 30 minutes to bring pain medication when we have 3 people calling ahead of them and no one to help. Then to help with the big loss of staff, they went to mandatory 12 hour call every 3 weeks, regardless of how many hours a week you usually work, or if you just work prn. Then more people quit. Even the MD's comment on ask how we are going to take care of their patients with no staff. One night, I had 3 active labor patients, and an unstable pretermer on Mag. One of the midwives came in and said, man you guys need more staff and she stayed for awhile to help keep an eye on the monitor strips. All in all, we lost 26 nurses in the last 6 months. 26. Well, Sunday night I had a chance to chat with the hospital's medical director. once a month, the admin will walk through the units at night to 'make themselves visible', something they started when they tried to get magnet status. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to talk with him. He asked me if I had everything I needed to do my job, if there was anything we needed. I told him staff and explained that we've lost so many people, some with 10, 20 even 30 years of experience. He then said "I know of 4". I thought, dont argue with me dude, these are my co-workers and I know how many are gone. He tried to say, well, people go to offices for a different lifestyle, try different areas with better hours. I then said that the majority wouldn't have looked for something else had all this crap not gone on. I then got that usual line of BS that you get from administration (sorry if I offend anyone) about how nurses aren't appreciated, his wife is a RN, blah, blah, blah. Basically changing the subject. He did say he would talk with our director about the issue and I e-mailed him the list of names of all the staff that left with the approx number of years they worked on the unit. We'll see what happens.