MN Nurses 107th Annual Convention Summary

MNA 107th Annual Convention:  See.  Learn.  Prepare.  Act.

The annual convention of the Minnesota Nurses Association fortified members’ stance on nursing issues and demonstrated their resolve to act collectively on those issues.

“We are MNA,” said President Linda Hamilton, RN, BSN during her opening speech.  “We are 20,000 voices.  We are 20,000 votes.  We are nurses standing together across this country as National Nurses United. We are 185,000 voices. We are 185,000 votes.  Our voices and votes ring loud and true to defend the values we hold dear against the injustice of the corporate machine and corrupted political process.”

200 delegates dug into a packed agenda that mixed organizational business, education, celebration, fun and action during the  one pre-convention and three official days of the event, held from Oct. 14 – 17 in Duluth.

Nurses’ role in standing up against the pervasive, relentless drive toward the corporatization of health care was a main theme of the convention.  Stories shared by members during a Sunday joint meeting of Assembly of Bargaining Unit Leaders (ABUL) and Assembly of MNA Practice and Education Leaders (AMPEL)  on the subject exposed the numerous threats to nursing practice coming from a variety of fronts, including the state’s Board of Nursing.  Another education session, presented by National Nurses United Researcher Jane Morrison, gave a particularly parochial twinge to nurses when she revealed that Ascension Health, one of the largest health care chains in the nation, was also the developer and owner of Accretive Health, the debt collector firm that was fined by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson for their predatory and unlawful practices at Fairview Health Systems.

John Nichols, the Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine brought a Wellstone-like feel to the Monday morning session of the convention when he implored members to channel the former U.S. Senator and “go to that place that’s not comfortable.  Forces aligned against you are on the march.  They are well-funded and well-connected.  Do not let them tell you that you must compromise. Keep fighting.  Don’t give up.”

Robin Hood was also in the House, as Rep. Keith Ellison made a special trip to the North Shore to congratulate nurses for being leaders in advancing the Financial Transaction Tax.  The Robin Hood Tax, as it is more commonly called, makes Wall Street pay for the damage they have inflicted on middle class families.  “You brought this idea to me,” said Ellison. “And it is the right idea for future of this country.”  Ellison authored HR6411 calling for a .05% tax on Wall Street transactions.  He introduced the legislation into Congress, and is seeking co-sponsors.

Nurses went into action for Safe Staffing on Tuesday afternoon, door-knocking on several hundred homes to urge residents to support MNA’s efforts to secure state-wide legislation that will ensure minimum staffing standards in acute care hospitals and/or staffing measures in MNA union contracts with hospitals.

The bulk of the work of the convention was intense, but attendees enjoyed time for networking and even a little dancing.  Even learning was made fun as members received an exclusive, full-canvas MNA backpack and wandered through an “expedition” of action centers in the exhibit hall, where they were awarded colorful achievement “badges” for their activities related to safe staffing, health and safety, union solidarity, policy and election commitments and social media savvy.

Resolutions Address Nursing Practice Issues

Resolutions brought before the 107th meeting of the MNA House of Delegates addressed rising questions about enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).  While the intention of the Act is to health care facilities and other health care agencies into the world of electronic data transaction and protect the privacy of an individual’s health information, many providers have a poor understanding of the law, have failed to educate staff members to apply it judiciously and are responding to HIPAA law with heavy-handedness.  In addition, many employers have failed to implement the available failsafe mechanisms to prevent non-compliance.  The MNA resolution calls for more thorough investigations of HIPAA violations by providers and resolve situations by analyzing system issues, applying consistent disciplinary measures (when needed) to individuals.

MNA leaders also took aim at the recommendations being proposed through the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report for its potential negative impact on nursing practice.  Warning that the report is subject to misinterpretation and manipulation by employers and Boards of Nursing, which could thus lead to deskilling and overutilization of ancillary staff in place of Registered Nurses, MNA’s House of Delegates resolved to oppose any legislative implementation of the IOM’s recommendations without significant evaluation and input from staff nurses.

Similarly, MNA members support the concept of a “Just Culture,” but are wary of proper implementation in transforming health care culture.  Initially introduced into the airline industry, a just culture is a way to address errors that happen in a professional environment, and in its ideal form it would anticipate and more readily capture human errors before they become critical.  The resolution adopted by the House of Delegates supports an appropriate application of just culture principals, but opposes an environment that uses the concept as a façade.

MNA leaders further resolved to more strongly oppose and act against the corporate-driven Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact being advanced by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.  The legislation would open the floodgates for nurses who do not meet the standards of nursing to which Minnesotans are accustomed.

Bylaws Action Strengthens Organization

A number of Bylaws intended to clarify and strengthen the organization were also acted upon during the annual meeting.  Members voted to streamline operations by combining its Board of Directors and the MNA Commission on Economic and General Welfare.  The newly structured Board will be elected in 2013 and will take office on Jan. 1, 2014.  MNA will also introduce an associate membership category in 2013.


MNA Celebrates Nursing Achievements

The organization also took time to honor members who have made significant contributions to the profession and to the organization in the past year.  In addition, the Minnesota Nurses Association Foundation awarded $70,000 in scholarships and research grants during a ceremony on Monday night.

Individual honors were given to the following members

MNA Special RecognitionMarie Stuewe, Retired (awarded posthumously)
President’s AwardDiane Johnson, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, MinneapolisPatricia Webster, North Memorial Hospital, Robbinsdale
Audrey Logsdon/Geraldine Wedel E & GW AwardCarolyn Jorgenson, Rice Hospital, Willmar
Ruth L. Haas Excellence in Practice AwardRenee Ebel, St. Luke’s Hospital, Duluth
Elizabeth Shogren Health and Safety AwardLara Norkus-Crampton, Methodist Hospital, St. Louis Park
Mentorship in Nursing AwardTheresa Peterson, North Memorial Hospital, Robbinsdale
Paul and Sheila Wellstone Social Justice AwardPatrick Thibault, State of Minnesota, Human Resources
Sarah Tarleton Colvin Political Action AwardMNA Right-to-Work Action TeamRuby Alto; Peggy Anderson;   Margaret Blissenbach; Nancy Carlson; Renee Ebel; Wayne GarrettJenelle Haugan; Deborah   Haugen; Amber Hawkins; Carolyn Jorgenson; Greg Jubera; Kyle Landwehr; Diane   McLaughlin; Charles Meister; Tonya Moss; Nellie Munn; David Perron; Renee   Peterson; Cynthia Prout; Danielle Rodgers; Diane Scott; Teri Specktor; Steven   Strand; Josephine Strand; Marcia Swanson; Eric Tronnes; Kyle Zelinske
Creative Nursing AwardCode Green Work Group (Allina)  Renee Woods; Vincent Glidden; Mary Shupe;   James Danielson
Nurse Researcher AwardHans-Peter de Ruiter
Distinguished Service AwardQueen Obasi, United Hospital, St.   Paul
Nurse Educator AwardNellie Munn, Children’s Hospitals   & Clinics, MPLS.