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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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Status Quo

Recently I was having a conversation with a nurse on my unit about Ted Kennedy and his diagnosis of brain cancer. The comment I made was that when they thought he had a stroke he was air lifted to the best hospital in Massachusetts. I commented that we all deserve that level of response and care when or if we ever have an event like that. I went on to state that there should not be class care in this country and that we all deserve to be treated with the best available care.

She responded that I needed to accept that there is a class system and it exist every where and that it will never change. I accept the statement as fact but reject the notion that I should accept it as ethical or moral practice. Furthermore I believe that my professional ethics require me to fight against class care and demand that all patients and people regardless of their circumstances or economic or social position in life places them. With that said we won't change the minds of the world that some are entitled to more because of the size of their wallets or the family to which they were born but we can work on changing the minds of nurses that this concept should not apply to health care.

What is the value of human life. Are you more or less valuable than Kennedy or me or anyone for that matter? Should your ability to pay be part of the treatment process?

Please think about those you have seen in your careers that have lived and died and ask if there have ever been patients who might have survived if they had the money to afford better care. The question is not meant to imply that your facility or you made the choice to give bad care or neglect the patient but would more options have been pursued if the money for those treatments had been available. With that said, health care is one area where we should not have a first class and coach.

I hope you will comment on this post and share your comments about this subject.

2 comments:

  1. Ideally everyone should receive the same level of access regardless of social class. Realistically, providing that level of access is just too expensive. We only have a limited amount of healthcare dollars to cover all patients. Most of this money is spent on the chronic noncompliant patient. With this class of patients soaking up the vast portion of our limited funds we are prevented from offering better healthcare to others who would benefit from it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nurse AdvocateMonday, June 02, 2008

    You are right and that is why we need total reform of the system and not just another plan that covers a few more than we did last year.

    We will never get every patient to be compliant with their plans of care but I believe we would have better compliance if cost was out of the equation. We pay more and get less in this country. If you examine the other industrialized nations of the world you will find they are statistically providing better care. This is fact not opinion. The outcomes are measured using the same criteria as we do here, so the argument that we provide better care is false. It is true that we have the best specialist but most patients do not have access to these physicians due to cost or their insurance not allowing for the treatments that these physicians would prescribe. Profit must be removed from our health care system.

    There are several post on this site that compare and contrast our system to that of other nations. Please review the post titled The US compared to other health care systems, Sick Around The World by Frontline and Types of care around the World. All of these give examples of how we could be delivering better care. It will require humility and admitting that America can learn from others and that we are not perfect and that we should do better by our citizens.

    Thank you for your post and opinion.

    ReplyDelete

Comments should be free of personal attacks and should refrain from the use of other peoples names that have not given permission for their names to be used. Your comments will only be deleted if found to be in violation of the above. Please be specific to the psot you are commenting on. If you have personal issues with me or any other contributer you may email me at the email listed at the top of the blog at advocateforsafety@gmail.com

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You can post your comments anonymously if you like or use any name you choose. We are not interested in knowing who you are but what you think!!

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, http://www.calnurses.org/nnoc/about-nnoc.html 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, http://nurseadvocates.blogspot.com/ , 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, http://www.freechoiceact.org/page/s/aflcio 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 http://www.leapforpatientsafety.org/ 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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