Caregivers Beg Management to Rethink Furloughs — “This Is Demoralizing”

January 3rd, 2012 — More than 200 Jackson caregivers packed DTC 270 on Thursday, Dec. 22nd to discuss the disastrous effects of furloughs with Chief Nursing Executive Ric Cuming and other hospital administrators.

“We pride ourselves on providing good care,” said Denise Glass, RN, who works in SICU. “But we are unable to give the care that we want. Every day we are walking the line of making a critical error. We are pushed and pushed. We are tired and stressed to the max. We are only human.”

Furloughs have units throughout Jackson in an upheaval, according to caregivers’ testimonies. Yaakov Reif, RN, had spoken to all of his fellow coworkers in TICU to get a detailed account of problems in his unit. One night, Reif said, TICU was so understaffed that a visitor offered to answer phones ringing off the hook because there was no secretary and nurses were too busy caring for patients. Reif provided a written report to management.

Joyce Kirkhoff, RN, has worked in NICU for 8 years. She said furloughs have resulted in unsafe staffing and nurses are now doubling up on critically ill babies. Debra Diaz, CRNA, said lack of staff has backed up patient flow and patients are now stuck in the OR longer. “It’s upsetting for both the patients and their families,” Diaz said.

Pharmacist Sereda White said the outpatient pharmacy is now closed on Sundays because there are no pharmacists working and patients can’t get their medications on the weekends. “Our department is in total chaos right now,” White said. “It’s a mess.”

After Cuming listened to complaints from caregivers, he thanked everyone for their commitment to quality care and said the furloughs were “all about cash flow.”

“I’m not going to engage in a debate about whether furloughs are right or wrong,” Cuming said. “From management’s perspective, furloughs have been deemed a requirement. We have to be able to keep our doors opened. There’s not much I can say to you to make it better.”

President Martha Baker, RN, urged Cuming to be the voice of caregivers to management and to think about the lasting effects furloughs will have on Jackson. “Furloughs are supposed to be saving millions of dollars, but how much does it cost to lose patients?” Baker asked. “We are asking you to stand up for caregivers so that we can stand up for our patients.”

Transplant coordinator Natalie Morgan was brought to tears when she described what it’s like working in the transplant unit under furloughs. “There have been too many complaints from patients,” she said. “This is demoralizing. We take care of our patients; you need to take care of us.”

CNE Rick Cuming and CNO Denese McGill-Clare listened to testimonies from caregivers

Pharmacist Sereda White said her department is in “total chaos” due to furloughs

Transplant Coordinator Natalie Morgan (Right) said management is “cutting too far to the bone. It’s shocking what’s going on.”

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