Labor Day: Creating a Healthy Work Culture  

When I think of Labor Day I remember the working class heroes who have built our society and have won so many of the rights we enjoy: paid holidays, overtime compensation, child labor laws and the ability to come together as a voice for fairness.

Today I read that President Obama passed a measure for seven paid sick days for federal employees.

Healthcare Starts with Self-care
Healthcare Starts with Self-care

This shows there is still much work to be done to ensure fair practice that protect workers from harm. It seems ludicrous for someone to go to work sick because they can’t afford to take a day off thereby, infecting everyone else at their job.

What about nurses? I know many, myself included,  who work or have worked when they were sick because there weren’t enough co-workers to cover the shift.

Everywhere I look, hospitals aren’t hiring  enough nurses. Hospitals depend on nurses to work overtime to cover unfilled nursing positions because , ironically, it’s too expensive to pay for employee healthcare benefits.

Nurses work hard and need time off to recover from the demands of our job. It has become the nurses code of honor to work extra shifts to provide respite for each other. Yet, this unspoken rule spreads the work pool too thin to cover sick leave, especially for minor ailments like colds.  So it has become prevalent for bedside nurses to work even while sick .

Managers try to deter this behavior by scheduling nurses weeks in advance to prepare for slim weekend and holiday coverage. Yet, because a hospital census can be so unpredictable, there are always circumstances where shifts need to be rearranged to balance the experienced nurses with new nurses to provide mentorship and optimal care for the patients. No one knows better than a nurse that short staffing puts patients in jeopardy making it a real guilt trip to call in sick.

This holiday, I am taking a moment to recognize  the nurses’ responsibility to ensure fair work practices that protect others from unnecessary exposure to sick workers. We didn’t cause this nursing shortage, we didn’t create the uncertainty of situations that demand we adjust our schedules, but we can cure this dilemma.

Nurses can change the unrealistic expectations we put upon ourselves and our profession by sharing the awareness that we must advocate for our own health first. While it seems a brave and admirable sacrifice to work while mildly ill we are exposing these germs to other people’s immune systems  that may cause a life threatening situation.

Sure, we can pass more laws to ensure worker and public safety but it’s faster and cheaper to create a healthy work culture. To start, I must walk my talk and present myself as fit to do a good job. Instead of manipulating a co-workers by demanding that they defend a sick call, I have started creating a culture that protects and encourages nurses to be strong and healthy by saying, “I hope you feel better.”

County Nurses Take the Fall

Ventura, County Star said retired sheriff, Bob Brooks, is suing for a boost to his $200,000/yr pension.As a nurse I’ll be lucky to reach the poverty line when I retire.

20131107-205018.jpg

RN Power: Ventura Retirement Board’s Newest Member

Ventura County’s Retirement Association swore in their newest elected Board Member, Deanna McCormick RN, on 2/25/13.

As a graduate of Law, this dynamo of a JD has her work cut out for her. Considering she is an awesome advocate for patients and nurses rights already, she is excited to serve the Public Sector in a pursuit of justice when it comes to interpreting the newest laws regulating the amount of earnings eligible for retirement calculations.

Ventura County Public Sector Workers should pat themselves on the back for electing this strong leader who will protect our income for our Golden years.

20130226-071858.jpg

20130226-072517.jpg

Save Money and Sanity this Holiday Season

Only in America do we give thanks for all our plenty and then spend the rest of the holiday season in a frenzy trying to buy the things we lack.

English: Sears inside Plaza del Norte.
English: Sears inside Plaza del Norte. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint. I strive for food and shelter like everyone else. I’m willing to work for my basic needs. But, when is enough, enough? When does it become sufficient that to be alive, to breathe, is enough to be happy?

 My dad used to say, “If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything,” but because he was from Brooklyn, he spoke like this: “Reeter Ann. If you don’t have your health you don’t have nothing. It doesn’t matter how rich you are. If you’re sick you can’t enjoy it.” The older I get, the more I agree and my experience shows me, that my vitality includes my mind and spirit, as well as my physical health.

The Pursuit of happiness starts with good intention, usually we desire the things our parents couldn’t give us; or, we want to make it easier for our kids.

Slowly we climb the socio-economic ladder and in increments we reach for higher price tags to attain happiness.

Recent examples of Wall Street gluttony and mortgage fraud, blatantly tell us that greed is not only acceptable, it is rewarded with lower tax rates and bailouts.

  Even if we achieve wealth, we can become indifferent toward each other. Instead of being richer, we can be left in emotional and spiritual poverty. When we lose sight of the importance of caring for our psychological well-being, we lose our compassion and our strength. When the quality of life begins to crumble, we head to the shopping malls to help us feel better.

Insead, it’s important to invest in practises that build integrity and character from the inside out. Whereas, material things have a shelf life and our bills can deplete us for a lifetime, developing mindfulness is eternal.

 The holidays are a great time to start a psychological boot camp. By working to improve your mental health and setting aside your sights of material things you can revel in the abundance of energy that wants you to be happy. Some people call it prayer, some call it meditation but, no matter how you label it, it doesn’t really matter. What counts, is that you take the time to focus your attention on your inner landscape and take the journey home.

When I concentrate on quieting my brain and being humble, just breathing becomes enough to be happy. In meditation I feel the power of the universe, the magic of my imagination and the ability to co-create with the Master of all understanding. It is in these moments of grace, that my deepest prayers are answered. To be alive is more than enough to be happy.  

 We all have the ability to sync with the Beloved’s infinite’s energy; so, skip that trip to Sears and you just might find, that you don’t need that delux super do-whatch-ma-call-it after all.

Nursing: Grateful for Making a Difference

Thanksgiving: Gratitude for what’s been given and the attitude to pay it forward. A time to not only reflect what’s kept us alive but a time to be grateful for what allows us to thrive. Our ability to learn from our mistakes in order to make the world a better place.

The settlers had a rough first year in Plymouth, many died in their attempt to live in freedom and pursue happiness. They learned the cost of innovation and the challenges of finding solutions in a world that didn’t play by the same rules as the one they had left.

Today we have a country that has not only survived but has thrived to become the most successful example of democracy to date. In looking back to our history from colony, to states to a nation under God, you can’t help but wonder: Where are we going? Can we maintain our greatness?
Or, as the mighty empires that have gone before us, do we fall?

The answers lie in your willingness to reach out your hand, and, as the Native Americans did for the Pilgrims, look beyond your own individual needs and as nurses do the collective work of unity and justice for all.

There’s a multitude of ways to bring an attitude of gratitude that not only shifts your perception of happiness but also helps to sustain the progression of goodwill toward all.

Besides donating canned and dried goods to a food bank, volunteering to feed the homeless or visiting the elderly in nursing homes, try getting involved by using your connections with other nurses to:
• Set an example of grace and dignity even in the most frustrating situations

• Get rooted in your community like one of its strongest oak trees, it starts locally to produce global effects

• Provoke action by being an advocate: shake things up when someone’s walk doesn’t match their talk

• Make peace a priority in order to increase domestic spending on education, the unemployed, healthcare and our infrastructure

• Demand a living wage and dignity of all workers

• Support a tax on Wall Street

• Write or phone your congressmen: no one concedes anything without insistent and persistent demands

Most of all love who you are and get out of your own way to become the channel for the infinite wisdom of the universe to shine through.

Would You Buy Tickets to a Show then Stay Home Instead of Watching It?

   

Guest Blog by Brenda Grey RN, BSN, Public Health

 

Back in June I joined the nurses from the California Nurses Association (CNA) and other RNs from across the country in a rally to oppose takeaways from our public sector workers. We came together under the National Nurses United (NNU) and marched on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to urge our legislators to support a tax on billion dollar corporations on Wall Street in order to fund our faltering healthcare and educational systems in America. Our demonstration was quite a sight. Horns beeping, and thumbs up by the people made it even more worthwhile as we trudged the streets to our nation’s Capitol in the sweltering heat and humidity.
I realize it can get depressing and frustrating when our benefits are ripped away from us and our wages have been frozen. We pay union dues and what has the union done for us besides help negotiate the contract for the benefits we currently have. This little analogy may help. To me this makes sense….

 

Imagine buying a movie ticket and not showing up for the entertainment. Imagine our union dues as the fee for the ticket. We have a much better outcome and obtain greater satisfaction when we show up for the entertainment (in our case, actions or meetings). I believe the County Nurses will see better results from contract negotiations and work actions when we all participate in public demonstrations that bring awareness to our community about what is happening to our patients and our nurses. When nurses come out in full force and ask the voters to support our causes for safe patient care, we press our local government officials to be accountable to keep their promises for quality affordable care. When nurses talk people listen. Nurses can make our legislators accountable!

Join the Nurses in our campaign:

Make Wall Street Pay to Heal America

Thursday September 1, at 12:00 PM

5051 Verdugo Way, Camarillo CA 93012

Urge Elton Galleghy to wake up and support the tax on Wall Street for jobs, healthcare and education in our local schools and hospitals instead of bailing out banks to bilk us some more!!!

See you there: Brenda