Monday, February 20, 2012

It could be different

I have seen so many young, bright nurses come and go from Backus Hospital and the emergency department in particular. This week we lose another. I say lose because it is a loss, for me and the rest of the staff, for the patients and for the hospital.

Every time a nurse with experience leaves it is a loss.

Some turnover is inevitable. Many of our nurses are young, not tied to a house, or a school for their children, eager to try new things, etc. The come to Backus, spend a year or two going through orientation and getting needed experience and then find themselves being recruited by other hospitals.
Many would like to stay, but they have student loans to pay back, dreams to own a home, and families or plans for a family.

It wasn't always this way.
Backus was once competitive.

About 5 years ago a new CEO was hired and he brought in a consulting firm and the cuts started, as much as $8,000/year for some nurses. On top of that, policies were changed giving bedside nurses less say in their own practice.

If Backus was in financial trouble I guess some of  this could be understandable, but last year non profit Backus Hospital spent $11 million on a union busting law firm, gave the CEO a 28% salary increase, and still posted a profit of $24.9 million.
In fact, both our current and former CEO both recieve well over half a million dollars/year.

Last spring when union nurses met with Governor Malloy and he listened to our concerns over turnover.  He described Backus as a "starter hospital".

This week Kate leaves.
She came as a new nurse and I was given the task of orientating and precepting her. She became a trusted colleague and a preceptor herself. When I became involved in the formation of the union she followed me. Pregnant at the time, she was one of the 16 nurses who stepped forward and signed our first public petition declaring our intention. She risked a lot to do this, but she loves her patients enough that she had to.
She's shared a lot with all of us; good days, bad days, and the birth of 2 children.
She will be sorely missed by the staff, on both a professional and personal level.

The hospital, the patients, the community, and the staff are all negatively impacted when we lose bright, young, dedicated nurses, and it happens all the time.

And it is so unnecessary.

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