Thursday, March 6, 2014

Proud to be a union nurse

Yesterday I testified in Hartford in favor of a safe staffing bill.
I was one of 6 people speaking in favor, another nurse from Backus, two nurses from L+M, our state federation president (also a nurse) and our state fed 2nd vice president.
Many others submitted written testimony.
Speaking against it were two women who said they were nurses, one an executive in the Hartford Healthcare system and one in the Yale Heathcare system. The represented the Connecticut Hospital Association and the Organization of Nurses Executives Connecticut.
The proposed bill would require hospitals report their staff to patient ratios to the state on a quarterly basis.  This is data they already collect and must have on hand for state inspections.
It would not require them to collect any new data and would not mandate any staffing ratios.

The nurses told stories of unsafe conditions due to being so overwhelmed that they could not properly care for their patients. They told of being so overwhelmed that hours could go by before they could check back on a patient.  They told of working 16 hour days because they felt guilty if they didn't, guilty of leaving their coworkers and patients short staffed. the told of shifts with no lunch breaks and only two bathroom breaks.

Those speaking against the bill said it would be a "burden" on the hospital to have to report the data they already had, and if they did, they didn't see how this data would help the state.

I sat there and thought, "That's the best you can do?"

In a way, I feel for these two "nurses." I imagine they entered nursing management in an attempt to help our profession and our patients.  I also imagine that now they are in a position where they cannot always say what they might like to, but rather, must deliver the "company message."

As I sat there and listened to my brothers and sisters speak of the care they wish they could provide to their patients, if only they had the resources needed,
as I watched our state federation officers speak on our behalf,
as I witnessed the respect the legislators grant our officers and our nurses,
...let's just say I am proud to be on this side of the equation,
proud to be a bedside nurse,
and proud to be a union nurse.

No comments: