Right now, Meriter registered nurses are at odds with hospital management in contract bargaining over issues that could affect the quality of care for our patients. As dedicated health care professionals, we’re concerned that the proposals put forth by Meriter could diminish our ability to provide the high quality of care we’ve come to expect from Meriter Hospital.

Meriter has benefited from union good will and a reputation for paying union wages and benefits, resulting in a secure, highly qualified workforce that maintains a superior level of excellence in quality patient care.

One concern we have proposed to resolve is how Meriter assigns the number of patients each nurse cares for. We have seen our workloads increase without improving the system of accounting for how sick a patient is when assigning our workload. It is common sense that sicker patients need more care. That’s why we want to make sure the level of patient sickness (acuity) is factored into the equation in a meaningful way. As front-line nurses, we know that higher nurse workloads are not just inconvenient for the patients, but can lead to medical errors and risks to patient safety.

Not only is safe staffing the right thing to do; research shows that it is cost-effective. Safe staffing improves nurse performance and patient mortality rates, and reduces turnover rates, nurse burnout, staffing costs, and liability. High turnover rates and high levels of temporary nurse staffing increase the average costs per discharge (cost of inpatient care, including administration) and overall operating costs.

But the staffing levels are not the only concern. Meriter proposes more “flexibility” with their staffing procedures, such as being able to "float" nurses to different, unfamiliar floors at a moment’s notice. Having a nurse float is like asking an English teacher to teach chemistry. When it comes to your loved one’s care, you deserve the very best. We are standing strong during bargaining to protect that right, by ensuring our contract guarantees safe floating so nurses only work in units where they are properly trained and familiar.

A healthy environment for patients requires a healthy workplace for nurses. Nurses are exposed on a daily basis to every disease, virus, epidemic, and pandemic that manifests itself in our society. In order to stay healthy ourselves, we need quality health insurance so we can receive the care necessary to keep ourselves healthy and disease-free. In addition, due to the strain of lifting and moving patients, nurses have high rates of musculoskeletal injuries. This is why we are fighting to keep our current health insurance and short-term medical disability. Unfortunately, Meriter proposes cuts to our health insurance by nearly doubling the employee contribution while increasing co-pays, deductibles, and out of pocket maximum. Nurses who care for others deserve quality and affordable health care for themselves. Meriter doesn’t need to propose any cuts as the Hospital is profitable, making over $48 million in 2012.

We want Meriter to remain a premiere medical center for both patients and workers alike. As nurses, we just want the best for our patients. Over the years, we’ve worked tirelessly to institute policies that work both for caregivers and patients. We hope Meriter will reconsider these bargaining proposals, and continue to live up to its espoused values of care and excellence.

Meriter RN Bargaining Team

Cheryl Eller, RN, Operating Room

Sandy Haak, RN, Operating Room

Bill Schmitz, RN, ICU

Marian Stokes, RN, Birthing Center

Mary Malaney, RN, Surgical Short Stay

Kassia Millar, RN, IMCU

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(4) comments

BobsYourUncle
BobsYourUncle

It is true that Jim Woodward, CEO of Meriter, is trying to cut many of the nursing benefits such as healthcare. He is busy positioning Meriter to be purchased, merge or partner with a larger healthcare provider. However, I work at Meriter and while I support the nurses and their quest to maintain their benefits, such as their multiple choices for healthcare, their contracted starting wage of nearly $32.00 per hour, the Meriter nurses were no where to be seen or heard when Jim Woodward slashed the non-union benefits. Our healthcare options were reduced and our out of pocket costs raised significantly. I am not complaining about my benefits. I have fabulous benefits when compared to the general population. Most individuals who have worked factory, food service, grocery, and other jobs that generally are subject to the whims of management when it comes to staffing and benefits, would be in awe of the benefits that we receive at Meriter. My complaint is that the nurses want everyone to support their demands, yet, they were incognito when non-union benefits were reduced. The State unions followed the same path. They failed to speak up and support other union and non-union workers when their employers were demanding pay and benefit cuts approaching 25 percent! Then, when it was their turn to have their benefits cut, suddenly, they wanted everyone to support them. As I have written many, many times...unions must support non-union workers and non-union workers must support unions. Without one, the other will cease to exist. I do hope the Meriter nurses succeed with their demands, but, until they (and other unions) begin to support the non-union staff, they will be hard pressed to find much support outside of their union members. As for the issue of simply transferring nursing to staff to other units on a moments notice, this is a recipe for disastor. Every floor, from ICU, Orthopedics,IMC, birthing unit or the operating room all have different skill sets. Nursing in a hospital the size of Meriter is not simply taking temperatures and passing out aspirin. Nursing and support staff must know and understand every patient, their families, the doctors demands, the hospitals demands, floor layouts and other issues such as where supplies are kept. Something as simple as the code carts could be a huge issue. The code carts are used if someone is having a heart attack. On every floor, they are located in a different place. During a code, a floating nurse may not know where the emergency supplies are located. I can promise you that the first time and emergency occurs and the the nurse does not respond properly due to a lack of floor knowledge, Meriter management will be out for nursing blood. Since Jim Woodward arrived, he has done many positvie things for Meriter. However, the relationship between staff and management has never been worse. I will not stoop to calling him a liar or extremely deceitful, but, Mr. Woodward will never have to worry about his spectacles falling off! Have a great weekend!!

BobsYourUncle
BobsYourUncle

Sorry for the sentence structure and spelling error. I should know better than to post prior to having my coffee! Have a great weekend!!

Fartinthewind
Fartinthewind

Bob:

I can't tell if you have problems with your sentence structure or spelling. I didn't read your screed.

LEARN TO USE THE ENTER KEY TO SEPARATE THOUGHTS INTO DIGESTIBLE PARAGRAPHS.

If you do that people might bother to read your posts.

sebastian
sebastian

Otherwise, it's just ... babble?

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