Below is a video and transcript of an amazing statement given in today’s bargaining session (April 22) with Methodist Hospital by Karen Anderson, RN.
KAREN ANDERSON STATEMENT – TRANSCRIPT
Karen Anderson, RN, Methodist Hospital
Everyday that we go to work we are responsible for the health and well-being of our patients. Doctors rely on our extensive training and expertise to make accurate evaluations of their patients, and to take timely, thoughtful, and effective, actions towards keeping those patients safe and healthy.
We do this by working nights, weekends, and holidays, on long, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting shifts. Through the intimate nature of our work, we are exposed to any number of contagious diseases carried by the people we care for. We deliver care for people at their worst, weakest, most embarrassing, physically challenging times of their lives. I have done so gratefully for over 30 years.
I realize we are living in the age of a damaged economy. However, the health care industry, including Methodist, continues to profit. They continue to expand and build, continue to spend extravagant sums of money on buildings, landscaping, travel, and, yes, personal profit. Park Nicollet likes to talk about being good stewards of limited resources. I can think of no better place to put resources than supporting those who support patients at the bedside.
For a minute, please think about being a patient. Consider that, as a patient, your life and well-being is in the hands of your nurse when you are hospitalized. How overtired, over tasked, overcommitted would you want your nurse to be? The nurse needs time to talk with you, to make thorough evaluations, to be able to respond to changes in your health status, to prepare and correctly administer potentially dangerous medication, to teach you the new skills you will need when you go home. The nurse needs some control over the number of patient’s she manages at any one time. The nurse needs some control over scheduling so she is alert, sharp of mind, and at the top of her game when entrusted with such important work
Why does the nurse – the direct care giver – need to have some level of control over how patient care is delivered? Because of what I have witnessed at the bedside of my patients over the past three years. I have witnessed a steadily increasing pervasive pressure to cut costs even at the risk of patient safety. Nurses are discredited or even subjected to work place harassment when they speak up or try to take action to protect patient/staff ratios. While the bedside nurse is primarily advocating for the patient, the administrator is primarily advocating for profit.
For these reasons, the nurse needs a contract guaranteed ability to influence staffing and scheduling. Even when we actually fill out the concern for safe staffing forms (keep in mind that probably only a fraction of the qualifying unsafe incidents actually generate a form), these concerns are ignored, belittled, invalidated. Methodist staff nurses will talk about their staffing concerns today.
Society absolutely needs its nurses. A strong contract shows potential nurses that they are valued, that this difficult, less than glamorous work is worth pursuing. A STRONG CONTRACT FOR NURSES KEEPS US ALL SAFE. Yes, I mean all of us – the nurse, the patient, even the institution itself.