NOTE: Release has been updated since this morning to now include video, quotations, and background from the action Twin Ports nurses held this afternoon.
Contact: Sam Fettig
While hospital executives make millions, crisis in hospitals worsens on their watch
(St. Paul) – August 2, 2022 – Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association at seven hospitals in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports today announced that they have voted “No Confidence” in their CEOs and other top executives. The votes come as the crises of understaffing and retention remain unsolved by hospital executives whose corporate healthcare policies caused the problems in Minnesota hospitals, even as those same executives continue to rake in millions in compensation.
“Thinking back on my shifts these last few months alone, being short staffed is the norm. We are constantly being asked to do more with less, leading to potentially unsafe situations for staff and patients,” said Chelsea Schafter, RN at M Health Fairview. “If these executives aren’t getting paid to solve the crushing conditions for workers and patients in our hospitals, what are they paid millions of dollars to do? It is past time for hospital CEOs to step up and to be held accountable to fix the problems they created.”
One recent study demonstrated how the crisis of retention and care continues to worsen, as half of all nurses now consider leaving the bedside in the next year due to short staffing and moral distress. A second recent study found that over 60 percent of nurses were considering leaving the profession, a 40 percent increase from a year prior in the same survey.
“Children’s nurses have voted no confidence in our CEO Marc Gorelick, or any of the bosses for that matter. We have no confidence in their plan to shut the Pediatric ICU down in St. Paul,” said Tricia Ryshkus, RN at Children’s Hospital Minneapolis. “They want to just say thank you for everything we did during the pandemic. Thank you is not enough. We deserve and demand better, and we have proposals on the table to recruit and retain nurses.”
The results of both new studies follow closely the results of an MNA report released earlier this year which found that 63 percent of MNA nurses had either considered leaving their position or knew someone who had within the last year, while those who did leave bedside nursing jobs in the last two years identified short staffing and poor hospital management as the driving factors.
“Nurses are exiting the bedside in droves with no one to replace them because after everything we have been through, everything we sacrificed during the pandemic, our employer continues to fail us and take us for granted,” said Toni Eustice, RN at North Memorial Hospital. “Nurses deserve more, especially when our executives continue to earn million-dollar salaries plus bonuses because we are doing our job. It’s time for the Hospital CEOs to make the changes necessary to start better supporting their real assets, the nurses, and to actually put Patients Before Profits!”
The crisis of retention in Minnesota hospitals is also a crisis of care. A report released by nurses earlier this year documented an explosive 300 percent growth in ‘Concern for Safe Staffing’ forms filed by nurses since 2014, up to a total of 7,857 in the last year. These forms document cases where nurses are concerned that short staffing may negatively impact patient care, including delays in administering medication, completing a patient assessment, or answering patient call lights.
“Nurses worked short staffed during a pandemic and began to burn out, causing more nurses to leave. Currently our staffing is the worst I have ever seen. Our patients deserve better than this. I feel we have an outstanding group of nurses at St. Luke’s. These Nurses put the patient above all else, and we need our CEOs to do the same,” said Lorie Olesiak, RN at St. Luke’s. “Today we are delivering our vote of No Confidence in our CEOs Eric Lohn and Nick VanDeelan. The current staffing situation at St. Luke’s can no longer continue.”
In one recent national study, just 15 percent of nurses felt that staffing levels in their workplace were safe for patients and nurses. Meanwhile, in over 80 percent of ‘Concern for Safe Staffing’ cases reported by MNA nurses, hospital leadership failed to adequately respond to the concerns for patient safety raised by the nurses. The votes of “No Confidence” announced by nurses today were taken by a majority of nurses concerning top executive leadership at the following hospitals:
|EXECUTIVES||HOSPITALS||2019 CEO COMPENSATION*|
|CEO James Hereford and the Board of Directors||HealthEast, M Health Fairview Riverside and Southdale||$3.5 million|
91% raise from 2018
|CEO Marc Gorelick||Children’s Minneapolis and St. Paul Hospitals||$1.4 million|
|CEO J. Kevin Croston||North Memorial Hospital||$1.3 million|
|CEOs Eric Lohn and|
Nick Van Deelen
|St. Luke’s Hospital Duluth||Lohn: $700,000|
Van Deelen: unknown
*Data from 2019 IRS 990 tax forms, the most recent year available for all hospital systems.
The votes of “No Confidence” come as MNA nurses have repeatedly called for hospital executives to solve the crises they created in our hospitals. From proposed legislation before the Minnesota Legislature to their current negotiations for a new contract, nurses are seeking solutions to short staffing and retention that will put Patients Before Profits in Minnesota hospitals. Despite these repeated efforts by nurses, executives have made clear to nurses that they are “not interested” in working with nurses to solve these crises and put Patients Before Profits in Minnesota hospitals
Nurses in the Twin Cities released the results of their “No Confidence” votes outside an event on the University of Minnesota campus which featured “Healthcare Leaders on the Future of the Industry.” At the event, nurses distributed flyers to the public informing them of Minnesota hospital CEOs’ failure of leadership. The flyers also encourage Minnesotan patients to share their stories of the effects of corporate healthcare in their lives, from the high cost of care and medical debt to hospital closures and understaffed units. Minnesotans who would like to submit a patient story or learn more about corporate healthcare practices in Minnesota, sign a petition of support, or get email updates on nurses’ negotiations are encouraged to visit MNPatientsBeforeProfits.com.
In Duluth, nurses from St. Luke’s who released their vote of “No Confidence” were joined by Twin Ports nurses from Essentia who released their own call for accountability of their hospital executives, asking the Sisters of the St. Scholastica Benedictine Community – who founded the hospital and remain on its Board of Directors – to stand with nurses working to “keep patient care and your Benedictine legacy at the heart of our practice and to stand up for quality health care for all.”
Right now, 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports are bargaining for new contracts, seeking solutions to the crisis of understaffing and retention in Minnesota hospitals. Nurses began bargaining in March, and contracts expired for Twin Cities nurses at the end of May and for Twin Ports nurses at the end of June. Over the month of June, nurses held informational pickets at 15 hospitals throughout the state, from Duluth and Moose Lake to the Twin Cities and Hastings, calling on executives to put Patients Before Profits in our hospitals.