National Nurses United’s Picket Action in Florida (And What It Aims to Achieve for Patient Care)
On July 12, registered nurses from Florida held informational pickets in front of six hospitals affiliated with the HCA (Hospital Corporation of America). The hospitals in question were:
· Northside Hospital, St. Petersburg
· St. Petersburg General Hospital
· Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville
· Blake Medical Center, Bradenton
· Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kissimmee
· Doctor’s Hospital of Sarasota
The goal of the picketers was to draw the public’s attention to two burning issues which are severely diminishing the quality of patient care at those medical institutions. Specifically, they wanted to highlight the problems with registered nurse turnover rates and staffing grid compliance.
There is really no need to point out the importance of having experienced staff in any line of work. This holds doubly true for patient care, where split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death. And yet, this is an issue that management of these hospitals has failed to address properly.
There is no doubt that a lack of seasoned nursing staff in these medical institutions is a serious problem. What’s worse, an issue like this cannot appear overnight and is the outcome of long-lasting difficulties. Roselily Story, an RN with 17 years of experience at St. Petersburg General Hospital, knows this firsthand.
As she put it, a mere 11 percent of registered nurses at SPGH have been there for over a decade. Additionally, more than half (52% to be precise) have under three years of experience in this institution.
To make matter worse, these figures are not the result of some third-party research. They come from the hospitals’ own data, which makes it even stranger that no one has addressed the underlying issues. In preparation for the protest, the nurses filed an information request and the numbers they received did not paint a pretty picture for any of the hospitals involved.
For example, the situation in Oakhill Hospital is nearly identical to what you have in SPGH. At Oakhill, 53 percent of the RNs have been the employees of this medical institution for under three years.
However, as bad as this may sound, the situation at Northside Hospital is even more alarming. There, a staggering 71% of the registered nurses got the job within the last 36 months. That’s an increase of almost 40% compared to the previous two hospitals. Once you take that into account, it may not even come as that much of a shock that practically every other member of the RN staff has less than a year and a half of experience in that medical institution. The exact figure is 48 percent.
As if the lack of experienced RNs wasn’t bad enough, there are also problems with how they are assigned. This is evident in the fact that the hospitals are struggling to comply with the staffing grids they set in the first place.
For proof, you can turn to the data the hospitals provided for January 2018. Unfortunately, these figures are no better than the aforementioned turnover rates. To give only the most blatant example, the intensive care unit at SPGH did not comply with the assigned staffing grid 85% of the time.
These two issues form a vicious circle. When hospitals can’t comply with the staffing grids, it places enormous stress on the staff. RNs need to juggle responsibilities and frequently do not have enough time. Seeing as nursing is a profession with so much responsibility, many cannot take this and choose to leave. This causes high turnover rates and the cycle continues.
The picket action in Florida is an attempt to address this problem. Or at least, bring it into the spotlight. This issue affects far more than just six hospitals and the public deserves to know.
In the end, it boils down to quality care. That’s the sole reason the RNs in Florida took to the streets. Simply put, an investment into nursing staff is an investment in patient satisfaction. Therefore, this is an important issue and a worthy cause for everyone in the medical profession.