By the time you’re reading this all the hoopla is over and the Sea Hawks are home with a Super Bowl ring and an extra $90,000 per player. As a Peyton Manning fan, I rooted for the Broncos; but it goes to show that even one of the greatest quarterbacks of this decade can’t carry the whole game without teamwork.
For the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) nurses, who have been bargaining for a contract since December 2012, we know that to be champions of healthcare means more than a gold ring and more money. Winning an awesome contract means safe patient ratios, protecting nurses from crippling back injuries and workplace violence, a career ladder that enhances job satisfaction and improves our ability to recruit seasoned nurses and a healthy public sector hospital system that keeps prices down. Without public sector healthcare, the private sector can charge whatever they want because they will be the only providers in town.
We know we have what it takes to win. We’ve survived Cerner and the onset of Trauma Designation which has more than doubled our work. Like the Broncos we are favored to win, but unless we depend on stellar teamwork, as in the case of the Sea Hawks, we might fall short of championing the greatest success of our careers: self-sustaining language that protects us from being stretched too thin.
Without a contract that takes into account for safety and staffing, the VCHCA will continue to hire new grad per diem nurses at bargain basement prices. These new nurses, while licensed, lack the experience to handle crisis with the competency of skilled nurses. It’s a vicious cycle, we train the new who move on to better paying hospitals and burn-out makes a training program for new-hires a burden instead of an honor. As in football, you can study playbooks until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing like scoring that first patient save from disaster.
Football is dangerous and so is being a nurse. Like linemen, we taking crushing loads and work with unpredictable patients who lash out. In the past four years, there have been over twenty nurses out for various bodily injuries and emotional stress. If you don’t believe me, check with Human Resources they’ll confirm the scores who were benched because of the harm done from heavy emotional and physical lifting.
Our state mandates hospitals to provide lift help in terms of policy and equipment, yet VCHCA nurses continue to get injured due to lack of training and gear. We need language in our contract that supports our rights to be safe.
When I think of Super Bowl I think of collaboration (you know those tight ends in the huddle, that’s what I’m talking about). Safe patient care starts with sheer numbers. Proper staffing means having a team to work with. I don’t know any caregivers that can split themselves in two. No amount of money will make up for a poor patient outcome that haunts you the rest of your life. Whenever the hospital is short staffed, nurses need relief efforts from their managers and combat compensation.
Yes we need a career ladder, the overhaul of VCHCA’s antiquated nursing classification system is long overdue. Yet, as a team, I know we’d be selling ourselves short if we don’t win a contract that includes staffing ratios, a nursing protection package and lift language as well.
Join the Team of VCHCA Nurses
EVERY Third Tuesday of Each Month:
7:30-8:30 Santa Paula Hospital Cafeteria
9:00-10:30 at VCMC Cafeteria
12-1:00 at 2240 Gonzales Rd #200 Public Health
EVERY First Monday of the Month
9:00 a.m. at Mimi’s Cafe on Main
Come & Decide Your Future
I don’t know about you but I cry every time I hear or read Martin Luther King Jr’s, I have a Dream Speech. His words in 1963 still resonate with passion of a world of equality and connectedness where every nurse goes whenever they enter their workplace to care for the sick and needy.
The Caduceus, a more sophisticated sampling of the red cross, has long been a symbol used in nursing, which marks the spot where the sick and injured can be treated without fear of attack. It is the universal sign of neutrality where the most vulnerable have refuge from the fiercest battle lines of hate. Right?
Not anymore. Sadly, the news is full of stories where nurses are being attacked by angry patients in hospitals, children are being gunned down in schools by the mentally ill and the sick of our richest nation are being relegated to half measures because of lack of funds.
Nurses intuitively know that access to healthcare is the universal level for creating equality. Let’s face it, you can have all the money and prestige in the world but if you don’t have your health you can’t enjoy it. If you want to build a utopia you have to start with good health. Disease doesn’t care about the color of your skin or the size of your bank account.
Think about it: In medicine a nurse honors the place in you that makes you whole. A nurse upholds that universal world where you are loved as only one of God’s kids can be loved- that place of beauty that place of truth, that place of light. What an honor to share this sacred knowledge with MLK- the place where all hearts beat as one, the place where each one of us has a special purpose in this world.
King’s gifts of commitment to civil rights and non-violent social change have always been used as guidelines for nursing practice. More than ever, our success must rely on MLK’s dream in order to change this healthcare system that’s dying to get better. How simple to apply his vision of unity and courage to our nursing policy and procedures. Among the standards you might address to your healthcare agencies: Do all our neighbors have access to comprehensive healthcare, including mental health? Are the elderly as nourished as they should be? Are the children physically fit and destined for healthy adult lifestyles? These are just a few possible places to continue our nurses’ crusade for healthcare justice.
It’s time to accommodate King’s Dream, at least on the level of healthcare, and make medical accessibility a reality. Commit to the Nurses’ Nurse Crusade the dream of quality affordable healthcare for all. Forward this to a friend, get others to sign up for a subscription to the Nurses’ Nurse Blog and leave your comments to build a strong nursing opinion that becomes the united voice of reason.
Next up: the latest update on VCHCA negotiations- the work toward Nursing Professional Recognition
You’ve heard the story: Once upon a time there were two cruel stepsisters and the unfair servitude enforced by an
evil stepmother who abused Cinderella in her own home.
She spent her days slaving over her mean spirited stepsisters. She dreamed of a better life.
By the end of the story, Cinderella is a princess. Her name oozes transformation — going from the dirty hearth to ruler of the kingdom.
Much like Cinderella the nursing profession needs transformation.
Think radical change only happens in kiddie stories? Cinderella’s transformation follows a series of steps that can help you transform the nursing profession if you’re willing to take the action.
They don’t even require a glass slipper or a handsome prince (although that would be nice). Simply a change in approach and the tenacity to believe that nursing can be something different beyond our present circumstances.
After all nurses are a critical component in a growing industry that needs educated caregivers, yet we would rather be relegated to the back burner. It’s time we step forward and take the credit for the awesome job we do to make and keep our communities healthy and safe.
Cinderella’s backstory started out just fine, but her father remarried, and her stepmother decided her blood relations took top priority.
Cinderella could have remained the victim and resigned herself to her lot, but she didn’t.
When the prince decided to invite all the women of the kingdom to his party, so he could find a wife, Cinderella did everything she could to attend.
It was a long shot. She didn’t have time off, her clothes were a mess, and she was probably having the worst-hair-day ever. How dare she try to attend the ball?
But she had grit. And determination wins the race both in business and in life.
Because change is hard. If you’re going to reinvent yourself, you’ve got to want it enough to put up with the labor pains.
If you’re not getting an embossed invitation to the party yet, do something about it. Don’t just sit there and whine. Come up with a plan.
Her mean stepsisters and mother laughed when Cinderella suggested she’d like to go with them to the ball. She was filthy and dressed in rags.
As soon as they were gone — and with the help of a little abracadabra (after all this is a fairy tale) — Cinderella found herself wearing a spectacular gown.
Here’s the interesting part: as soon as she had the gown on, no one recognized her. Looking and acting the part changed her so completely she became like a different person.
Reality is created by your perceptions. If you don’t represent nursing as a vital profession, or worse yet, you’re invisible- what can you do to dress it up? What can you do to look and act like the esteemed professional you are?
Dressing the part means representing yourself out in the public as a health care visionary. It means writing in to voice your insight to the community. It means claiming your authority and behaving with dignity, instead of the usual whining and griping that goes on behind closed doors.
And it means being bold enough to do something like getting petitions signed, educating the public with editorials, or speaking at town hall meetings about the practicalities of funding more nursing jobs in public health and in schools.
Cinderella made a great impression at the prince’s soiree. Everyone wanted to know who she was and where she’d come from.
But in fairy tales all magic comes with a price, and this story is no exception. At midnight Cinderella’s transformation expired, and she returned to her dirty clothes and former life. As she ran from the castle, she left behind a glass slipper.
The prince set out to look for the owner of the slipper. When he got to Cinderella’s home, her evil stepmother and sisters didn’t even want to let her out of the house.
Cinderella approached the prince anyway and asked to try the slipper on. It fit perfectly, of course.
If she hadn’t stood up for herself, she never would have arrived at her destiny. She spoke up and claimed what was hers. She was her own best advocate, and she became the royal princess.
Sometimes in order to get where you want to be, you have to be willing to defy the people around you who don’t think you can do it. And you have to be willing to tell others what you want and need. At first you will feel unpopular because you aren’t enabling those around you to take all the credit for your hard work. Others may even resent that you’ve changed. But in the end they too will get used to the fact that you are a force that is indispensible to getting the job done!
It starts with believing in yourself and your own dreams. And you may need to reaffirm that belief over and over to get where you want to go.
What’s Your Cinderella story going to be?
Are you ready to grow to professional heights higher than you’ve ever been? Do you want to make more money? Feel fulfilled and regarded in your career? It doesn’t take magic to get there.
In order to make the metamorphosis, you have to want it badly enough to put up with naysayers and haters.
You may need to defy those around you who aren’t supportive. You’ll want to dress the part, act- -as-if, and walk your talk before you’re quite “there” so others can clearly envision you in your wished-for role.
If you do these things, I can’t promise you will marry a prince (or a princess if that’s what you really want- most royalty are much too high maintenance) But our profession will have a bright well-funded legacy for healthier outcomes, and that’s worth working toward, don’t you think?
You’ve heard of all the different ways to prevent nurse burn-out and stagnation. Forget mid-career, I was disillusioned in my second year of bedside nursing on a Med/Surg unit and sorely needed a change of pace when I finally transferred to Labor and Delivery in 1989.
Isn’t the diversity of nursing and all the choices that come with it, why so many of us become nurses to begin with?
One of the biggest perks I looked forward to when I was in school was the demand for good nurses everywhere and the ability to travel the world over. Turns out I’m a bit of a homebody; consequently I wound up staying in L&D at Ventura County Medical Center for over twenty-five years. There I took on a different journey and battled burn-out by staying in action.
#1: Honor the rumblings of dissatisfaction. There’s a big difference between work and drudgery. The first part of every solution is the realization that there is a problem. Being complacent of the status quo is a great way to ignore the ditches and go flying off the road of happiness. A better option is to take note of the conditions around you that need improvement and move forward with a plan for change.
I’m sure that if I had ignored my discontent during the short-staffing crisis of the ‘90s, I would’ve turned into a miserable nurse who hated her job. Instead, I have better working conditions and the self-esteem earned from my hard work on the California RN’s Safe Staffing Bill that went into law in 1999.
#2: Look for Greener pastures. Moonlighting or working for a registry make for great ways to try other hospitals to see if the management of a different organization is a better fit. I can say I’ve worked at every major hospital within a 15 mile radius of VCHCA and I’ve found that there’s no place like home. Empowering the patients at VCMC and the reopening of Santa Paula Hospital has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Besides, once you’ve worked in a teaching hospital amongst the brightest doctors in the nation, it’s hard to go anywhere that isn’t cutting edge.
#3: Advance your education. In 1991, I started working on my BSN and Public Health Certificate where the wonders of education opened the flood gates of possibility. In every classroom there are professors and students from all walks of life. There’s nothing as enriching as diversity and believe me for every different personality out there, thousands of exciting combinations can be cultivated. There’s no limit to what there is to learn.
#4: Network to build relationships. I didn’t even have to look for my teaching job at Ventura College. Out of sheer respect for my years of expertise and my reputation, the dean came looking for me! Even though this is usually not the case, with social media the way we get information has changed the world. Today there are no excuses for not knowing what is going on in your local nursing community and around the world.
Did you know that nurses are awesome? One nurse invented a better way to deliver oxygen to infants. Don’t take my word for it go to http://t.co/G5SnW9kMLu and see for yourself. I belong to Twitter and Linkedin. My followers and those I follow are a rich source of understanding outside what is being told on FOX News.
#5: Become Active in nursing associations. Why is it that nurses don’t participate in their professional organizations? If it weren’t for the political actions of these committees, nurses would still be in the Stone Age. If each of us gave an hour a week to write to our congressmen, support nurse lobbyists or write an article for a local newsletter, nurses would be the rich source of leadership that directs healthcare policy. Instead, we have a reform act that had very little to do with nursing’s input.
So whether you decide to change jobs or stay put, a pound of prevention is still the greatest cure for a nursing mid-career crisis; and this comes from your willingness to look at the mysteries of what makes you passionate about your career. Asking questions like: How can I make a difference? What do I bring to the table? These are the never-ending enticements that enrich the nursing profession.
Come Monday, September 7, 2013 at 9 A.M. and join me and the VCHCA’s Professional Performance Committee at Mimi’s Café on Main St. in Ventura, where we can talk about what’s coming up with your career at VCHCA.
Avoid a career crisis. Become the change you want for your future.
This is what a recent picture on Pinterest should have been. Instead it enticed readers to check out a photo of a fireman resuscitating a cat as a tiny kitten watched in awe as skilled hands worked their magic.
As far as pictures go, it was good; damn good. I was completely taken hook, line and sinker. The look on that kitty’s face as its beloved mother was being rescued was priceless. It was an endearing shot; but let’s face it, that photo totally ruins all hope for nurses. There’s no way in hell nurses can compete with that.
From a public relations standpoint, nurses are totally screwed. Unless nurses come up with something better than rescuing cats from trees or helping lost children find their mothers, we can forget about being as venerated or exalted as the boys in yellow or blue.
No one seems to care that nurses save hundreds of lives every day and are the sheriffs, deputies and firefighters of healthcare rolled into one kick-ass classification of super hero. We man the Delivery, Emergency and Operating Rooms, across the nation. Without us, hospitals would be glorified hotels, and excuse me but I don’t want a bellhop for my chest pain, difficulty breathing or a dressing changed.
So corral your friends and family and come on down to march with the nurses at the Ventura County Fair Parade on Saturday, August 3rd. We’ll start lining up at 8 A.M. on Main St. and Catalina St. (in front of Ventura High School). The theme of the parade is Boots, Barns and Banjos so where your red scrub tops, your best cowboy boots, hats and bandanas and show Ventura County that the Nurses of our Health Care Agency are the Heroes of Healthcare.
We will have a pick-up truck with a trailer for our float, so come down and help us get it all gussied up to represent our passion for safe, quality community healthcare.
For more details or questions call: Rita Batchley The Nurses’ Nurse at 805-443-5695
For a Limited Time Only, you will have the opportunity to get the deal of a lifetime – How often have you heard that line?
You’ve seen it a million times. Yet, it’s surprisingly true because the time has never been so full of change for public sector nurses. As the expiration date of the contract between the Ventura County Nurses and the County’s Health Care Agency goes further and further off into the sunset the pressure is mounting because of what lies ahead.
As a negotiator on the bargaining team, I can say that talks have been carefully planned as the looming presence of the County’s upcoming conversion to Heath-E-Connect, a new electronic health care record is coming to every public sector health care provider as of July 1, 2013.
This, along with national news is about to put an end to a five year stagnation of wages along with the erosion of pay due to increased contributions toward retirement funds and taxes for county health care workers. Time is on our side, the spark of change is burning and the fuse is running short, the nurses have a stronghold that makes our future bright.
In less than a month Health-E-Connect (Cerner), will go live and in three months, Ventura County will become partners with the federal government to become an insurance exchange for Obama Care. The California Nurses Association Bargaining Unit has not had this many advantages to make our voices heard for better pay and working conditions in a long time. In fact the serendipity of the situation gives me goose bumps, because the time has never been better to draw a line in the sand to propose a financial package that will send the nurses into a happier future.
So NURSES: RNs, LVNs and PSYCH-Techs, Don’t miss out. Come to:
The Cafeteria Conference Room at VCMC to Discuss YOUR future
WHEN: TUESDAY, JUNE 18TH
WHERE: CAFETERIA CONFERENCE RM
TIME: 8 A.M. – NOON
It was a proud day for the healthcare team of Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) when an overwhelming number of caregivers representing every department across the medical spectrum, from Med/Surg, ER, OB, OR, Public Health and outpatient Mental Health, took over the audience at the Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. In an attempt to persuade the BOS that designations in leadership and management need revamping nurses, psych-techs and respiratory therapists gave testimonials of what it’s like in the day in the life at our Level One Trauma Center Hospital and outpatient services which provide support quality, affordable health care for our community.