Facing wind, rain and commuters, registered nurses from Overlake Hospital and their supporters lined the I-405 overpass at NE 10th Street in Bellevue at rush hour yesterday to let the community know about unsafe management proposals that could directly impact patient care.
Among the top concerns is management’s proposal to expand its ability to “float” nurses outside of their specialty areas to address chronic short-staffing in certain units of the hospital. Floating is not a safe staffing plan. Rather than bringing in RNs from other units, the answer is appropriate staffing and an expansion of the Float Pool where RNs proficient in multiple areas of specialty float to units as needed.
Overlake management’s floating proposal is concerning on multiple levels. First, Overlake administration wants to be able to toss aside best practices to float RNs from their specialty areas into units with patients that have conditions the RN would likely be unfamiliar with. RNs train for many months and in some cases, years to become proficient in their area of specialty.
The potential absurdity and danger of floating nurses broadly is illustrated in WSNA’s video, “A Nurse is a Nurse is a Nurse? Not to my patients!” Would you want an oncology nurse delivering your baby? A radiology nurse taking care of your mother after open heart surgery? Of course not.
Secondly, RNs at Overlake, like nurses at many hospitals around the state, are not able to consistently get meal and rest breaks they are entitled to. When RNs are consistently able to get breaks every 4 hours and get their much needed meal breaks, their practice is safer. It is really about safe patient care. When nurses are rested, they are on the top of their game just as any of us would expect from someone caring for our loved one. That’s why WSNA has proposed dedicated rest break relief RNs.
Overlake nurses have been in negotiations for three months and have held seven sessions, with an eighth session scheduled for Monday, June 19. Stay up to date on what’s happening in Overlake Medical Center RN negotiations at https://www.facebook.com/NursingStrongOverlake/