After a large meal at a local diner the waitress approached with a take-home container. “Do you wanna box for that?” she asked while smacking her chewing gum. “No,” I answered. “I don’t want to fight for it. If you want it that badly you can have it!” At the time, I just couldn’t resist…
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
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