After months of infighting with Orlando Health, the National Nurses United are bringing the focus of their organizing efforts back to where they should be, the patients.
Workers at Orlando Health have been working with the National Nurses United to organize workers after Orlando Health announced pay cuts and layoffs. The results of their organizing efforts has shown significant promise, in spite of blatant anti-union violations. Orlando Health laid off hundreds of workers, and that is putting patients at risk.
The RNs say they are seeing a massive exodus of experienced nurses leaving to work in other hospitals due to the cuts, longer hours, and inadequate staffing.
“Since the first round of the shift differential cuts in Oct., we’ve definitely seen more experienced RNs feeling they have no choice but to leave. This is very troubling because experienced RNs are vital to maintaining quality patient care,” said Sarah Collins, RN, who works in the critical care nursery. “In my unit alone, RNs have been taking up to five infants, which exceeds the national standard. With so many patients, how can we expect to deliver safe and therapeutic patient care to the sick babies in our unit?
The patient safety issues, that spurred the more than 5,000 RNs in eight hospitals to organize with the NNOC-FL last August, led the nurses to conduct a system-wide patient care survey. In preliminary findings, the two units of most concern are the emergency department at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) and a neo-natal intensive care unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital (WPH).
On Monday January 13th workers and community activists will hold a candlelight vigil to highlight these safety concerns.
What: Orlando RNs Candle Light Vigil to Alert Public to Patient Safety Concerns
When: Monday, Jan. 13, 2014
5:30 p.m. –6:30 p.m.
Where: Lake Beauty, Orlando Regional Medical Center
1414 Kuhl Avenue ~ Orlando, FL 32806, (corner of Miller and Orange)
The vigil also coincides with a second round of cuts to night shift nurses pay, which goes into effect Sunday.
“We’ve expressed our concerns many times to OH administration, but it has fallen on deaf ears,” said Collins. “Now Orlando Health wants to worsen the blow with the second round of shift differential cuts. These cuts directly impact patient care. That’s why we’re holding a candle light vigil to mourn the loss of our experienced nurses and the loss of community health.”
The ORMC emergency department, where more than half the nurses responded, found that 80 percent of the RNs said that staffing is never, or at best, sometimes adequate. Further, 55 percent of those stated that the level of sickness of patients has increased over the last year.
“More and more people are coming to the ER for care and the number of patients each nurse is assigned has increased,” said Alina Capeles, an RN who works in the ORMC emergency department.
“Several of our most experienced RNs who have left because of the reductions are being replaced by new graduate nurses. There is insufficient time to properly train or orient these nurses,” said Capeles. “There have been layoffs and reductions of the number of radiology and CT scan technicians, which creates delays in care when they get backed up, as they often do. We have to pool all of our resources to get through the day, but I’m worried that the day will come when there just won’t be enough RNs to take care of a true emergency.”
The ongoing cuts and patient care reductions are occurring at the same time that Orlando Health is undergoing a costly expansion, and has reported a $271 million profit over the last four years. The RNs continue to press hospital officials to rescind the cuts and maintain and improve nurse-to-patient safe-staffing ratios and agree to a fair process for employees to organize a union without interference from hospital management.
NNOC-Florida is part of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest direct-care RN union, representing 185,000 members.
For more information contact: Jennifer Lemmon, 480-290-8187, or Liz Jacobs, RN, 510-273-2232