Nursing unions have a strong presence in Michigan, where high-profile labor disputes including a walk out at Marquette have brought disagreements over employment protocols to national attention.
A special report was published last week by Crain’s Detroit Business wherein reporters interviewed nurses at seven hospitals to find out what they would like to see change in the healthcare system.
While higher pay is certainly in the top five wishes, ensuring a safe workplace for nurses and their patients is the foremost focus. Much of that would stem from capping shift hours. Currently, there are no such regulations in Michigan.
Scott Balko, an operating room nurse at UP Health System-Marquette, said the No. 1 issue for nurses at the 300-bed hospital is mandatory overtime driven by poor working conditions because of understaffing that he said discourages nurses from applying for jobs and causes unnecessary turnover.
‘We don’t have the number of nurses to do the job. They are working longer shifts and putting patients in unsafe conditions,’ Balko said. ‘There are no regulations on hours for nurses like there are for truck drivers.’
John Armelagos, president of the Michigan Nurses Association and nurse for 30 years at the University of Michigan Hospitals, stressed that ensuring hospitals have an adequate number of staff is a big part of providing a safe, value-producing work environment.
‘We need to ensure there are enough nurses to take care of patients on every unit and every shift so we can respond and monitor our patients,’ said Armelagos, who works in inpatient psychiatric adult and adolescent units. ‘When there are not enough nurses to take care of patients, peer review research shows that patients suffer, outcomes are more negative and mortality increases per patient.’
It’s important that nurses have a voice in ensuring they can provide the best quality care for patients in a positive work environment. You can read the full report here.