Trauma Center Nurse Manager Fights for Staffing

carlaquigleyCarla Quigley, RN, ASN, MS, CCRN, spent 18 years at Jackson before she fully understood a basic truth about the public hospital — it’s incredibly complicated and difficult to change.

Quigley, who has spent more than seven years as either nurse manager or associate nurse manger at Ryder Trauma Center, learned that lesson when she spent three months working full-time with Local 1991 to address staffing in the ICUs and the ER at Jackson Memorial.

Quigley is a no-nonsense powerhouse in her unit and she jumped at the chance to make a difference in fixing the staffing issues that continue to plague so many units at Jackson.

“I was so frustrated,” she said. “It was a constant battle. I was like, ‘Let me get out and show them.'”

Quigley took leave from her job and worked closely with Local 1991 President Martha Baker, RN, focusing on a host of staffing  and process issues, such as the Rapid Response Team, charge nurses with patient loads and through-put from the ER to the ICUs. The pair collected data from the units and presented it in multiple meetings with management.

“I was able to present real scenarios and situations, specific examples, and to show data to back up what we’ve been saying all along,” she said. “It was really put in their face. If we are using that much overtime, how can you say we’re fully staffed? If you are not staffing appropriately, how can you reduce length of stay?”

Quigley found that management was responsive to this approach. Again and again, she and Baker were told that staffing and other issues were going to be addressed. And in some cases, they were.

For instance, Quigley’s unit was approved for seven additional staff. Not as much as they need to function perfectly, but a relief. CNO Debbie Tedder, RN, also said that JMH will approve an internship every quarter in the ICU, ER or Med-Surge.

And staff who had been working full-time in units were finally moved over from the Central Staffing office, which meant that their managers could correctly compensate them for such benefits as tuition reimbursement, PL days and funeral leave.

Quigley said the fight is far from over, but getting a bigger picture of the challenges affecting managers across the system was helpful.

“It gave me a view of what’s happening in the hospital,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t see outside your own unit. I now realize why things take so long to get done. It maybe dropped my frustration level down coming back to my job.”

Quigley believes that more members should look for opportunities to get involved in issues being fought in their units.

“People need to understand it’s a process,” she said. “If we don’t take care of each other, who will?”

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