The Measure of a Man

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CNA and SEIU fighting hurts us all.

I am a member of the NNOC the national arm of the CNA and I agree with your call for the two unions to make peace and see that their fights are hurting the nurses they are charged to represent. I have asked the CNA to stop their anti SEIU campaign and focus on the promotion of better working environments for nurses and safer patient care.

I support ratios and much of what is being proposed by the CNA and do feel that we have to be firm with hospital administrations as they are with us. We will not succeed if we continue to be our own worst enemy. There is so much to do and we will all lose if we focus on our differences as opposed to our common goals of making the acute care setting a safer place for nurses and patients.
I plan to post your comments on my blog at

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 11:18 PM, The Nurse Unchained wrote:
The Nurse Unchained
Nurses alleged that nurses attack them!
Posted: 23 Apr 2008 12:13 PM CDT
Dateline Dearborn, Michigan – Nurses alleged that nurses attack them!Yes, you read correctly, the nurses and other members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (C.N.A./N.N.O.C.) alleged that during their convention in Dearborn that members of the Service Employee International Union (S.E.I.U.), a rival nursing union, barged into their event and began to harass and attack their members. C.N.A./N.N.O.C representatives have alleged that at least one woman was injured during this altercation and had to be treated at a local hospital for her injuries.When I read this report in my e-mail and later in my local newspaper I thought what a sad, sad day for the nursing profession; and a sense of déjà vu came over me. Since several years ago I was very nearly “that” woman who had to be taken to the hospital after being accosted by a male RN who was a C.N.A. member.During a special election that had been called by our Governor the C.N.A., S.E.I.U. took issue with a request from the Governor to delay the implementation of phase two of the California mandated nurse/patient ratio law, asking that a review and report of the impact of phase one first; this request seemed reasonable to me since many hospitals were claiming the law had been at the heart of a series of hospital closure and the nurses were arguing that it had “solved” our state’s nursing shortage. A review of what phase one had or had not done seemed reasonable however some chose to interpret that to mean a rollback of the law. So the C.N.A. started its now famous campaign where it dogged the Governor and many other elected officials to various events throughout the state holding loud and boisterous demonstrations and even interrupting the “non-political” annual Governor’s Conference on Women. Historically this conference has placed a focus on women and women issues with little to no political agenda, a rare venue where divergent groups could gather for an open exchange of ideas – no more because since that day the conference has become like so many public meetings have become susceptible to “hijacking” by one group or another for its own political agenda.I was with a group of nurses who decided that we had had enough with members of the C.N.A. disrupting events through-out our state and when the C.N.A. decided to hold their post-election night event at the same venue as ours we decided to take our signs and hold a low-key, peaceful demonstration outside their room; since of course what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – no? As we stood outside the door of their event with our signs; members of the C.N.A. came out to demand that we leave, when that failed they tried to drown us out and when that didn’t work they tried kicking my cane out from under me so I’d fall.So, while I found it very distressing that nurses would resort to physically assaulting one another (as if they don’t experience this type of bullying enough in the workplace) I found it rather ironic that Rose Ann DeMoro would yell “foul” when treated to some of the same tactics she and some members of the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. was infamous for – talk about the pot calling the kettle black. This recent event also helps highlight what happens when people are intentionally “radicalized”, allowed to funnel all their frustration (both real and imagined) into a perceived “foe”, and then let lose to vent. The past several years have seen the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. aggressively recruiting for new nurse members throughout the country. In many of these recruitment activities there have been accusations made that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has engaged in union raiding, the use of State Board of Nursing mailing lists to recruit (this is usually prohibited), and even the attempt to recruit under the guise of emergency response, etc.There is little doubt that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has developed a reputation for “bare-knuckle” fighting and not being shy at calling out those that they perceive are hampering their agenda. Most organization members would welcome such aggressive “protection”, however sometimes when a group behaves in a way that is very much outside the societal norm and don’t face consequences then the groundwork is laid for the potential of even more outrageous behavior in the future and where does the line get drawn?Time for disclosure, for those who may be unaware of my personal bias let me make it clear I am not one who supports or promotes the idea of unions for nurses. I am however a firm believer that nurses should seek out, participate and join professional associations, but NOT unions. Strikes and the behavior exhibited by the rival nursing unions in Michigan are a good example of what happens when nurses adopt the no-holds barred mentality of unions.Another thing that has concerned me about the recent confrontations in Michigan is the silence from organizations that claim to be professional nursing associations and advocacy groups on the alleged nurse on nurse violence that was reported to have occurred in Dearborn, MI. You’d think that they would at least issued a statement denouncing such unprofessional, let alone poor human behavior. Of course, I’m sure that if this had been an episode of E.R. or House maybe we’d have received a denouncement.I’m also concerned at the fall-out from this violent encounter, since the S.E.I.U. and C.N.A./N.N.O.C. confrontation over the stalled unionization in Ohio I have received numerous mailers from the S.E.I.U. about the transgression; and now with the events in Dearborn one wonder if there will be an intervention or will things continue to escalate? However, Ms. DeMoro shouldn’t be allowed to cry wolf about the S.E.I.U. members “stalking” C.N.A./N.N.O.C. members since it has been my experience that the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. has engaged in this behavior, usually meant to coerce uncooperative nurses at hospitals targeted by the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. for union organizing. Don’t believe me just read the testimony of nurses from Cedars-Sinai hospital that describe what they experienced at the hands of C.N.A. representatives when they opposed unionization; as well as the documented threats made to some nurses’ families. This does not mean I believe such behavior is justifiable or acceptable but it is interesting that when C.N.A./N.N.O.C. members experience such hostility it is suddenly not so palatable. Maybe this might be a significant emotional event for both groups to step back and take a look at what has happened and what is happening and maybe alter the collision course they are both on. Of course there are some observers who also see this as an opportunity to expose the darker side of nursing unions, and it very well maybe but the question remaining is will the media report and investigate, or will they take their usual role of union sympathizer and sweep it under the rug? Meanwhile, this morning a brief news article revealed that a court official had lifted the temporary restraining order that had been granted to the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. against the S.E.I.U. The court official ruled that the restraining order was “not supported” by the evidence filed by the C.N.A./N.N.O.C. (source Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2008)

1 comment:

  1. I would like to thank you for your comments to my recent posting on my blog, “The Nurse Unchained.” I agree that nurses need to show strength and conviction when faced with situations that place their patients and the nurse's ability to perform his/her job safely (and sometimes that means standing up to not only hospital administration but to fellow nurses as well).

    Unlike you I am not a supporter of ratios as they have been implemented in California. Why, because I believe in the need to assess the acuity of patient and the assignment of nurses in respect and relation to the nurse's skill sets and the severity/or lack thereof of the patient and this law does not make use of the nurse's critical thinking skills and education. I advocated for an acuity based system since our State's “title 22” already called for the implementation of an acuity system; since there was already well established reporting tools and fines and punishment associated with failure to comply. I also felt that the safe nurse/patient ratio bill that was signed into law though a possible step in the right direction failed to fulfill one of its greatest promises since there wasn't an associated enforcement bill attached to it. The enforcement bill was a companion bill, and to my knowledge it remains unsigned to this day. In some way the Governor's suggestion that a review of phase one should take place before further implementation was not such a bad idea since it might have laid to rest “this law is causing hospitals to close” rumors or substantiated it (in whole or part). It would have also validated or invalidated the C.N.A.'s claim that it had ended the nursing shortage that they made to the various news outlets (a claim which published BRN statistics also did not seem to substantiate).

    If you are so inclined, I invite you to read my column (published monthly in Working Nurse Magazine and with a readership of approx. 300,000 RNs in Southern California and Arizona). You can find copies of my column archived on my business website at and you can also find copies of my various letters to the editor and guest views archived under the sections “In the News” (including letters to the editor that addressed the nurse/patient ratio)


    My Response

    nurse advocate to Raconte
    show details 10:06 AM (3 minutes ago) Reply

    I would support acuity if I the law stated that it would be designed by bedside nurses and administered by the bedside nurses. The places where I have worked that had an acuity system had the same staffing as a straight division staffing matrix.

    I actually prefer the Ratio system adopted in Victoria, Australia, that calls for 5 nurses for 20 patients on a medsurg floor and then allows the charge nurse or the nursing staff to decide the acuity of the patients and divide out the assignments. One nurse may have 5 or 6 patients while another may only have 3 depending on the issues and acuity of the patients.

    There is no perfect system but we can do better than we currently are . I wish we were debating here in Tennessee the effectiveness of a mandated ratio system. Our nurses here are often faced with very unsafe ratios and no regard for skill level at all. The administrations at Tennessee hospitals float medsurg nurses into the ICU, OB nurses to adult medsurg, non psych nurses to psych units, the list goes on and on. I don't know if that is addressed in California but it needs to be dealt with nationally.

    I have no trust in the administrations of most hospitals to do the right thing over the mighty dollar, so at very least the ratios push them in the right direction. I was at one point in my career a nurse manager and was witness first hand to the lack of regard for the safety of patients and the lack of respect for our profession of nursing. I have witnessed administrations in Florida, California and Tennessee put patients safety at risk and treat nurses as interchangeable parts of the machine they call modern health care. It has to stop. Ratios are only the tip of the iceburge in the reform that is needed in our health care system and as the largest voice in that system nurses are the logical ones to push that change.

    As a nurse and patient advocate I am dedicated to bringing about reform and I wish more nurses like your self would get involved in the conversation. Thank you for your time and commitment to the issues even if we don't agree.


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My Story

My Story

I have been a nurse for just over ten years. I earned my degree with the support of my wife and financial assistance for the GI bill. I was drawn to the profession of nursing after a brief exposure to an advanced course in field triage while serving in the army. I find the human body fascinating and am always learning. I also was attracted to the profession for all the usual reasons that bring people to the profession of nursing. I enjoy the reward of giving to my fellow man.

I believe that health care and the advocacy of safe care is the foundation of nursing that was started by our founders like Florence Nightingale. Our practice act calls for our profession to advocate for our patients and against practices that puts their safety in jeopardy.

The healthcare industry has for the last twenty plus years constructed an environment to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety and our profession. We as nurses have stood by fairly quit and allowed for this to happen.

Recently, I and others voiced concerns related to patient safety and working conditions at Summit Hospital a hospital owned by Healthcare Corporation of America. Our issues included the working of nurse with approximately six month of experience for more than twenty four hours straight. This particular nurse did volunteer to work these hours but in my opinion should not have been ask to do so. She is a great nurse for her limited experience but put her license and the safety of her patients at risk that night. The manager of the unit failed her and the patients in her charge. Study after study has shown that the error rate goes off the chart after twelve hours. I and fifteen other nurses also expressed to management our concerns over the floating policies that were sending unqualified nurses to our unit. We noted several instances were these nurse made errors that put the patient in potential jeopardy. We also expressed our concerns over ratios of 3 to 1 becoming the norm in the unit when 2 to 1 is considered the norm in intensive care across most of the country.

We submitted these concerns in writing and signed by sixteen nurses from our unit. Management responded by holding meetings with a group of employees that they chose and their representatives which included the director of HR, our unit manager and the director of nursing. The meetings at their start gave us some hope that our issues might be taken seriously and dealt with. It was soon apparent that would not be the case and these meetings quickly moved away from our issues to their issues. They would agree that their were problems but would not put any solutions into writing, stating that they needed to be able to remain flexible and made statements like we will try instead of we will.

At around this same time I was informed of an organization called the NNOC or National Nurses Organizing Committee, that was holding meetings in the Nashville area to organize nurses to advocate for patients and against many of the problems that I expressed above. I met with their organizer and felt that their movement was something that I could support. I became a member of the NNOC and began attending meetings on a regular basis. I also began placing invitations to attend meetings in the break room of my unit and speaking with interested coworkers, while on break, about the need to organize and advocate for our patients and our profession.

After a short period of time I was ask by my manager about my involvement with the NNOC and my desire to form a union at Summit Hospital. I did not deny my association and did not hide my opinion as to why I felt that organizing was needed. I also informed them that I had the right as outlined in the National Labor Relation Act. The nursing staff at Summit was then subjected to mandatory anti union meetings and letter sent to our homes and to our email accounts at work. I was required to attend meetings with the hospital attorney and informed that because I was a charge nurse I was considered management and could not associate with the NNOC. I contested that I was a member of management but submitted to their demands to end my association with the NNOC. I never attended another meeting or recruited for the cause after that meeting. I did however continue to operate a blog, , that advocated for reform of the healthcare system and employee rights to organize. I did not use computers at work for this endeavor and did not use my real name on the blog or use any other names that would tell a reader where I worked or who I worked for.

I was ultimately terminated from Summit Medical Center on June 11th, 2008 for what I was told was the operation of a blog. I was given no specifics of what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite my asking. I appealed my termination through the hospitals employment dispute resolution process, attempting to get clarification as to what about my blog was cause for my termination. The peer panel dispute process was a sham. The panel as outlined by the hospitals policy was to be made up of my peers, who were “not familiar with the problem or have a close relationship with any of the parties involved”. The panel was anything but and was made up of persons who had expressed an open hostility to my rights to organize and to freely associate with the NNOC in the past. Two of the panel members were charge nurses from the ER also under the supervision of my manager, who had terminated me. These two persons were also at the meeting with the hospitals attorney and expressed anti union sentiment. Another panel member was a person who was well aware of my personal views related to unions and the right to organize and had been present at private settings outside the hospital were I had expressed my opinions related to the issues that started all this. This puts three of the five panel members in clear violation of the policy. I then was refused the right to seek any clarification as to what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite that being the stated reason for the panel. I was not given the right to hear the reasons as stated by my manager and the director of HR.

I am writing this because I believe that my fundamental right to due process has been violated. This is a right to work state and right or wrong that gives Summit the right to do as the please when it comes to hiring and firing of employees but most people believe and Summit attempts to mislead their employees that they are fair and just when it comes to matters of employee issues.

If Summit is allowed to get away with this and is not challenged then patients are at risk. Health care workers need to be free to advocate for safety for their patients and if they are scared into submission then patients will suffer.

Join me in fighting for our rights to free association and to advocate for our patients as our practice act requires. Support the employee free choice act, and send a message to Summit and other corporate bullies that feel you are entitled to the rights they give you and nothing more.
Also visit sited like Leap for Safety and support petitions to mandate stronger legislation that will ensure a safer environment. Visit to get involved.

I truly believe that our healthcare system is in dire trouble and we as nurses have a responsibility to get involved. Please join the fight. Your family may one day depend on what we do today.

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