FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, MNA, 651-414-2863 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Twin Cities hospital patients and nurses will be holding a press conference at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, June 8, to explain in detail just how dangerously understaffed area hospitals are and how patients and nurses are suffering as a result.
“The staffing issue is the reason 12,000 Twin Cities nurses have been forced to conduct a one-day strike for patient safety this Thursday,” said Cindy Olson, a Twin Cities RN and member of the MNA negotiating team. “And we don’t think the general public truly understands just how unsafe things are inside our hospitals, and that it’s getting worse.”
Twin Cities nurses file an average of 1,200 “unsafe staffing” forms each year detailing the types of incidents outlined below. But because these complaints continually fall upon deaf ears with hospital management, thousands more incidents are never reported, according to Olson.
“I’ve actually seen a manager tear up one of these complaints in front of a nurse to intimidate her,” Olson said. “We file these complaints, they get sent to committees, and nothing changes.”
Some recent examples from Twin Cities nurses:
“Two victims in this story. I know a nurse who worked nights at North Memorial Hospital. Her patient was admitted with a stroke. During the night she had another admission to do, and missed a neurology check on the other one because she didn’t have any staff to help her. The stroke was evolving and she missed it because she was doing paperwork for the new patient. The family filed a complaint and a lawsuit, the nurse was disciplined, and she left our unit. She later committed suicide.”
“During my shift at Methodist Hospital, a dying patient had to sit in his own feces while his family in the room because I couldn’t find anyone to help me clean him up.”
“I was working at Mercy Hospital and was assigned to care for four patients at once. One patient had a dangerously high blood sugar level of 600 – normal is 70-150. Another patient had mental health issues and had just come out of surgery. This patient pulled out her IV. When I went to check on her IV, I found her holding in her internal organs because her surgical incision had ripped open. I called for help, but nobody came. We didn’t have anyone else on staff that night to help me. That was my last shift at the hospital. I resigned that night.”
“In the NICU at Children’s Hospital, the staffing grid calls for .5 of a nurse to care for 3 babies at once. On my shift I was assigned three infants. One baby died, and the grieving parents asked me to stay in the room with them after it happened. At the same time, one of my other babies began screaming, needing to be held, and the third baby I was supposed to be watching stopped breathing.”
The Minnesota Nurses Association has complied thousands of similar stories and will begin releasing them to the general public on Tuesday. Each of the individual stories can be verified by a Twin Cities nurse who witnessed or experienced the incidents first-hand.
“Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories like the ones mentioned above,” Olson said. “Despite what the Twin Cities Hospitals want the public to believe, we’re not making this up. You want to know why 12,000 Twin Cities nurses are so united, so willing to go on strike in this economy? It’s because of these stories. It’s because this is a problem that is only getting worse, and if we don’t stand up for our patients now and try to change this, who will?”
Who: Twin Cities nurses and patients
What: Press Conference
Where: Minnesota Nurses Association, 345 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102
When: 1:00 PM Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Why: To call attention to just how dangerously understaffed Twin Cities Hospitals are.