Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Boston Nurses Scraping By on $114K a Year Threaten Strike

Meet Ellen Zane, soon to become Public Enemy No. 1 in the People's Republic.
Faced with a possible nurses strike, tough-talking Tufts Medical Center chief Ellen Zane is taking a page from President Reagan’s anti-union battle book, lining up hundreds of out-of-state replacements for anyone who might dare to go on strike in an increasingly bitter union-management fight.

On Thursday, Tufts’ 1,110 nurses will vote on whether to authorize a strike. Their contract expired in December.

Zane yesterday called the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s threat of a hospital strike “reprehensible.”
MNA spokesman David Schildmeier shot back that Zane’s threat to use replacements is “obscene.”

Zane told the Herald she’s contacted out-of-state nurses and is prepared to spend up to $4 million hiring at least 200 to keep Tufts open during what she’s classifying as a “very, very likely” work stoppage over a dispute about how many patients each nurse serves. The union wants a limit of four per shift — a demand Zane said could cost another $33 million a year.

“I will never, ever agree to a nurse-staffing ratio,” said Zane, who has run the once-nearly bankrupt Chinatown medical center for seven years and will retire Sept. 30. “And I won’t put this hospital in a position of financial harm, so some union can get more members.”
Zane's got them pegged. I hope she beefs up security.
The local union’s campaign is part of a broader push for nurse-to-patient limits by the year-old National Nurses Union, which the 23,000-member Massachusetts group helped create last year. Nurses in Massachusetts have spent 15 years trying, unsuccessfully, to enact nursing quotas. Only California has such a measure in place.

At Tufts, where a full-time nurse makes an average of $114,543 a year, a typical night shift can mean caring for seven patients.
Gee, they're expected to work hard for their average salary of $114,543 a year? Next thing you know six weeks vacation won't be enough. Judging by the mess California is in, we should be thankful they're the only ones with these rules in effect. But the unions don't care as long as they get theirs.

Considering the humiliating defeat suffered by Wisconsin unions, the public isn't going to be very sympathetic to people making well into six figures walking out on sick patients. Do these people have no shame?

H/T Jules Crittenden.


Patrick said...

I think I will have my wife put in an application

Spikessib said...

If they are doing it for the money, then I agree wholeheartedly with you. 

However, there are several studies available that show better outcomes for patients with higher nurse-patient ratios.

In one study it was shown that for every patient over 4 that a nurse is responsible for the chances of severe injury or death increase exponentially and at 7 patients the chances are 50% higher that a patient will die from something that could be prevented if the nurse had time to catch it.   It has also been shown that in ICU chances of severe complications increase when nurses care for more than two patients.  

The problem lies partially in the fact that hospitals charge for the bed, not the nurse.  I don't know about you, but no one I know goes to the hospital for the beds, and you see more of the doctor in an office visit.  People forget that the reason they are admitted to the hospital is for the nursing care.  Hospital Administration forgets that, too, and nurses end up being told to take more patients then they can keep up with or care for properly.  When that happens patients are at risk, and the nurses themselves are at risk of losing their ability to make a living and take care of their own families.  It's a college degree, dedicated to the one field and doesn't translate well to others.  

Most hospitals say they staff by acuity, or how sick the patients are, but while that might be the goal (just like cutting the budget is Obama's goal) it rarely works out that way.  Most often nurses work short-handed, without enough aides to pick up the slack, and with patients that are too sick for one person to be responsible for that many.  A 12 hour shift with no lunch (I've seen one hospital where there was a break nurse, the rest of the time it's grab a bite when you get a chance and chances are few and far between) and one bathroom break is not conducive to good care for the patients or keeping the good nurses working.  There is a reason that more than 60% of the people with nursing licenses don't work as nurses.  And it's not the paycheck.