Saturday, December 16, 2017

St. Joseph Nurses Decry Operating Room Staffing, Hospital Pledges 'Comprehensive Plan'

Posted By on Sat, Dec 16, 2017 at 1:48 PM

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The California Nurses Association issued a statement this morning indicating that nurses in St. Joseph Hospital’s operating room worked their Friday shifts while formally objecting to what they deem “unsafe staffing” conditions that included a nurse working a 15-hour shift.

According to the association, nurses worked Friday in the operating room under an “assignment Despite Objection,” a formal legal objection that protests unsafe staffing and transfers personal liability from the nurses to the hospital.

“Nurses do not file an ADO form lightly — they do so because they can not abandon their patients but want to ensure that the hospital understand the severity of the situation,” says the statement.

Specifically, the association brings up the 15-hour shift — asking if you would want a nurse heading into his or her 15th hour on duty tending to your surgery — and the fact that St. Joseph allegedly delegated the duties of the operating room’s Charge Nurse — who is typically responsible for coordinating patient care — to “non-nursing personnel.”

In a statement released after the Journal requested a response from St. Joseph, David Southerland, the hospital’s interim chief executive, doesn’t dispute the association’s claims but says the hospital has developed a comprehensive plan with the nursing staff to ensure operating rooms are appropriately staffed.

“Ensuing patient safety and delivering extraordinary care is fundamental to our hospital’s mission and values,” Southerland says. “This is a top priority. In keeping with our commitment to a culture of integrity, active compliance and the delivery of the highest standard of patient care, we have developed a comprehensive plan with nurse leadership in our surgical services department to ensure appropriate levels of staffing in our operating rooms.

Humboldt County has long been experiencing a nursing shortage, especially with regard to registered nurses. While the problem was exacerbated by the shuttering of Humboldt State University's nursing program back in 2010, officials announced in February that HSU, College of the Redwoods and the local healthcare industry are partnering on launching a new program to help meet local nursing demand. Read more about these efforts in past Journal coverage here and here.

See the full statements from the association and Southerland copied below:

From the California Nurses Association:

Members of the Eureka Community, Media and Public Officials -

You are receiving this email because the operating room at St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka is dangerously understaffed and Registered Nurses can no longer stay silent about the lack of safe staffing.

Nurses working on Friday, December 15th worked in the OR under an Assignment Despite Objection (ADO) a legal objection form that formally protests the unsafe staffing of the unit and transfers the liability of patient care from the Nurse's license to the Hospital.

Nurses do not file an ADO form lightly - they do so because they can not abandon their patients, but want to ensure that the Hospital understands the severity of the situation.

One Nurse on duty yesterday worked for 15 hours. If you or a family member was undergoing surgery in the OR yesterday, would you want a well-rested and alert Nurse to assist in your medical care or a Nurse who was heading into her 15th hour on duty?

Additionally, the duties of the Charge Nurse in the OR have recently been delegated to non-Nursing personnel. The OR Charge Nurse is a coordinator of care. To hand this important duty to an accountant or a non-RN manager is not only unsafe and irresponsible, but a violation of state law. This has been reported to appropriate state agencies, but again, we feel a duty to report these situations to a public who relies on our community hospital.

Registered Nurses have repeatedly attempted - in vain - to get the attention of Providence-St. Joseph to address these issues, but have been unsuccessful, so we now feel a duty to let the public know about the severity of unsafe staffing.

Thank you for your support - we will be sending out an alert every time the OR is on an ADO or we feel that there is a potentially unsafe situation.

From Southerland:
Statement on ADO in OR from CNA
December 16, 2017 – St. Joseph Hospital Eureka released the following statement from David Southerland, Interim Chief Executive, with regard to the California Nurses Association (CNA) statement on staffing in the OR:
"St. Joseph Hospital is committed to providing high quality patient care and patient safety. Ensuring patient safety and delivering extraordinary care is fundamental to our hospital’s mission and values. This is a top priority. In keeping with our commitment to a culture of integrity, active compliance and the delivery of the highest standard of patient care, we have developed a comprehensive plan with nurse leadership in our surgical services department to ensure appropriate levels of staffing in our operating rooms."


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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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