Barb Brock

Barb Brock, PhD

I have been a NICU Nanny for five years at Sacred Heart. This is a completely new experi­ence as I was a professor at a local univer­sity for decades. There are SO many babies with tremen­dous need, and I watch inter­ac­tions with nurses closely with respect and much admira­tion. There is never any judge­ment towards the parents, when sometimes it would be very hard NOT to judge. I see expert care along with an outpouring of love over these tiny newborns and their parents. I feel privi­leged to witness such a caring atmos­phere in my retire­ment years. My previous experi­ence with a hospital is where I had my babies and two hip replace­ments and that’s about it! 

...our revered nurses are sometimes doing their important work in pain, scared to take vacation leave for fear of losing benefits, and worn out from lack of downtime or vacation.

So, I was disturbed when overhearing two very respected nurses commenting on union negoti­a­tions, (15 meetings so far over more than a year), losing accumu­lated vacation leave, fear of taking a sick day, lack of vacation leave, losing retire­ment packages, and incre­mental raises which do not even hold up to the cost of living increases. I heard of nurses putting off their own personal medical issues like hip replace­ments because they could not afford to do this, accruing medical leave so they can take care of an aging parent or family member through an illness, then facing a risk of losing it. This means our revered nurses are sometimes doing their impor­tant work in pain, scared to take vacation leave for fear of losing benefits, and worn out from lack of downtime or vacation. These are women that hesitate to take a 20 minute break because they are concerned for their babies. This is a CRAZY way to treat these impor­tant members of our society. And don’t worry, they were talking to each other and I asked some questions. They were NOT complaining to me! 

In 2019, the number one reason for taking a vacation is reducing stress or relaxing. When workers are under stress, produc­tivity drops, more illness occurs, and the climate simply becomes toxic. Everyone SHOULD know that time off is essen­tial for strong bonds, a produc­tive workforce and a fulfilled life. But each year, more than half of Ameri­cans leave vacation time on the table, accumu­lating to 768 million days in 2018. Why? So many workers are afraid of losing their jobs just because they want some time with their families or a break from a stressful job. All KINDS of research points out the benefits of time off but our top officials seem to want to ignore this. 

Please take a good hard look at what your nurses are doing. Listen to them and start to run a kinder and more humane benefits program.

Please take a good hard look at what your nurses are doing. Listen to them and start to run a kinder and more humane benefits program. Your time listening and meeting their needs will pay you back tenfold and also turn your hospital into a stellar example all large workforces should follow. SOMEONE very respected needs to stop this dangerous cycle of work/​stress mentality. Perhaps you can? 

Thanks for listening. Again, I am just an observer, but feel I’ve stepped into a world where not everyone knows the pressure and respon­si­bility nurses face on a daily basis. Please do the right thing.