Letter: Nursing shifts
I was in the emergency room and then admitted to Franklin Medical Center the day Baystate declared an impasse in negotiations with FMC nurses. My experience in FMC reminded me how fortunate West County residents are to have a high-quality local hospital. I also was prompted to consider more deeply the nurses’ negotiations with hospital management, which I only know about through reading The Recorder.
Nurses working 12-hour shifts provided the majority of my care. I was struck by the constancy, intensity and demanding nature of nurses’ role in patients’ care and well-being — matters of life and death. I wonder how hospital management can expect a nurse to work overtime, much less a second back to back shift, and it not impact the quality of care provided. New York found that medical residents made fewer mistakes when they reduced the number of hours worked.
Current negotiations are stuck over paying overtime for working in excess of a 12-hour shift, even though a nurse may work less than 40 hours per week. Ensuring sufficient staff for shifts is management’s responsibility. What incentive is there for management to ensure nurses do not need to work in excess of their 12-hour shifts, if they are not required to pay overtime? California defines overtime for 8- and 12-hour shifts and gives two times an employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked over 12 hours in a workday.
The issue that should concern us is preserving the quality of care in our community hospital. In the world in which we live, the primary interest of corporate management is the bottom line. But who pays the real price, if the nurses do not hold the line and insist on accountability?