Nurses braved the cold to inform the public they are fighting for a fair contract that protects patients and nurses alike.
Nurses braved the cold to inform the public they are fighting for a fair contract that protects patients and nurses alike.
MNA Cambridge members and their families turned out in force to make signs and other preparations for Thursday’s picketing.
The RNs say they are frustrated with the hospital’s emphasis on profit over patient care and staff.
RNs are very concerned about the hospital’s proposals during the current contract negotiations, and recent staff layoffs.
Community members are solidly behind nurses. “I support our nurses” signs are in yards and businesses throughout Cambridge, and community residents will join the RNs on the picket line on Thursday.
Picketing is 2-6 p.m. on the public sidewalks around the hospital. A candlelight vigil starts at 5 p.m.
Nurses and other healthcare workers urged the state to live up to its responsibility to protect front-line healthcare workers dealing with Ebola and other infectious diseases at a Nov. 12 rally and candlelight vigil on the front lawn of the State Capitol.
Nurses and other healthcare workers spoke about their experiences and concerns about their hospitals’ different levels of preparedness for caring for patients who may have infectious diseases like Ebola.
“At my hospital, we do have some equipment and we have had some training – but it’s just not enough,” said Gail Olson, RN at Unity Hospital. “Nurses keep asking the hospital for more because we know what we have is too little. Nurses want to care for every patient – with Ebola, any infectious disease – any health problem. We just need to know we have the equipment and training to safely care for our patients.”
“We’re calling on government and hospitals to do the right thing: Provide the optimal equipment, training and staffing and we’ll be able to deal with anything,” said National Nurses United Co-President and Minnesota nurse Jean Ross. “We just need to be sure we can do it safely – and go home to our families knowing we’re not putting them in danger – or our neighbors and communities.”
“The state of Minnesota needs to set a standard for hospitals that protects everybody,” said Mary McGibbon, RN at Methodist Hospital and MNA first vice president. “The state needs to enforce OSHA guidelines on bloodborne diseases that are already in place. If I’m not protected, my patients aren’t protected either.”
McGibbon called on nurses who believe their hospitals are not prepared to file complaints with Minnesota OSHA. “You have a right to file and complaint and ask them to come to your hospital to see if the equipment and preparedness plan meet federal and state law.
The rally and candlelight vigil were part of the National Day of Ebola Preparedness, when thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers across the country are holding public events to demand optimal protective equipment, training, and staffing to make sure healthcare workers are safe as they care for their patients.
View a video from the event here.
Nurses at Sanford Bemidji Clinic are now part of the Minnesota Nurses Association, after a five-month campaign to be part of the union.
The nurses knew the value of belonging to a union, and campaigned hard for representation. They wore “Union Now” stickers and marched a petition to management to show they were standing strong for union representation and a voice in the workplace.
Nurses at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, who are already MNA members, circulated petitions expressing their support of clinic nurses becoming part of their bargaining unit.
“We wanted a voice in our workplace,” said bargaining team member Emily Westover. “The hospital nurses were already part of MNA, and clinic nurses wanted the same voice and representation. It made sense to be part of the same union.”
Westover said the move guarantees that good patient care at the clinic will continue.
“We’re opening a new chapter and creating more opportunity,” said Westover. “I want future nurses to have what I didn’t have – and make it better for everyone else.”
“I am so excited for the whole group of clinic nurses who have come together to show our strength,” said bargaining team member Christine Sheikholeslami. “We are also very fortunate to have the hospital nurses being so supportive. As nurses, our first priority has always been the health and safety of our patients. Having the collective strength of the union keeps this goal in the forefront. We must also see that nurses are adequately compensated. We want to help make sure that people who make nursing their career, will continue to love what they do and want to stay in this field.”
The new bargaining unit has been accreted into the hospital nurses’ contract and will now negotiate a separate wages-and-hours package with Sanford. When the contract expires in 2017, the hospital and clinic nurses will all bargain together as one strong unit.
Nurses and their families gather at the Minnesota State Capitol to honor those frontline healthcare workers who have been caring for or have pledged to care for Ebola patients. Nurses asked the state for mandatory standards to be enforced by OSHA that will protect them from all infectious diseases, and they pledged to make complaints to OSHA if hospitals aren’t ready.
All candidates for statewide office endorsed by MNA were elected. Governor Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto were re-elected. Steve Simon, MNA’s endorsed candidate for Secretary of State, will replace outgoing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Nearly two-thirds of MNA’s endorsed candidates from both parties for the House were elected.
As a result of the elections, Republicans will hold a 72-62 seat majority in the House (pending recounts in several close races) when the 2015 Legislative Session convenes.
That will present new challenges for passage of a Safe Patient Standard in 2015, but MNA will continue to advocate for minimum standards of care that protect patient safety and make sure nurses have the time they need to provide patients with the quality care they deserve.
MNA conducted its largest-ever member-to-member volunteer program this election season. Nurses reached out to other nurses in targeted districts by telephone and in person. Nurses also participated in doorknocking with candidates and with colleagues from other unions, and participated in record numbers for Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities in the last days of the election.
MNA members should be very proud of the effort nurses made to inform voters and support candidates who stand with nurses. We are building a foundation of strength for the future.
By Mathew Keller, RN JD, MNA Nurse Policy Specialist
We all know the five rights of medication administration: right patient, right route, right dose, right time, and right medication. Right documentation is often added as a sixth right.
But how can an RN give the right dose if she or he has not checked the patient’s blood glucose? In the clinical setting, blood glucose monitoring is often a delegated task. Whether the task is delegated to the patient or another properly trained assistive personnel is within the nurse’s discretion.
Administering insulin based on an inmate’s self-reported blood glucose, however, presents an especially challenging ethical dilemma for nurses in a prison setting. On the one hand is the nurse’s duty to respect the patient’s autonomy. On the other hand is the nurse’s duty of beneficence and non-maleficence to that patient. And, of course, don’t forget that you can’t help other patients if you no longer have your license.
There are several avenues available to the Board of Nursing to discipline an RN who improperly administers medication due to an incorrectly reported blood glucose level.
Never forget that under the Nurse Practice Act, you and only you, are accountable for the quality of care delivered;  that discipline can result from failure to conform to “the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing professional… nursing practice;”  and that the five rights of medication administration are minimum standards of acceptable nursing practice.
Adhering to the five rights for administration of insulin requires that the nurse has 100 percent confidence in the reported blood glucose in order to fulfill the “right dose” requirement. “Delegating… a nursing function or a prescribed healthcare function when the delegation… could reasonably be expected to result in unsafe or ineffective patient care”  is also grounds for discipline, including delegation of blood glucose monitoring.
If you, as an RN, have complete confidence in the self-reported blood glucose of an inmate, great. It is within your discretion to administer insulin to that patient. But please keep in mind that if you are ever wrong, if the inmate ever incorrectly self-reports, reports a blood glucose from six hours ago, or simply used improper methods to check his or her blood glucose, then you will fail to administer the right dose of medication.
Because of this, I highly advise all MNA members who work in prisons facing this issue to protect your license by having the inmate check his or her blood glucose in front of you. Checking the history of the blood glucose monitor is simply not enough: blood glucose results can be manipulated, perhaps in the way they are taken, perhaps in the device’s settings or time, perhaps in ways we are not even aware of.
Remember that you are accountable for the care you deliver, that the right dose requires you to know the right blood glucose, and that delegating a nursing function that could result in unsafe patient care is grounds for discipline.
Be prepared when you vote on Nov. 4 – know who you’re voting for and know your rights before you get to the polls.
MNA has endorsed candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, and the Minnesota House who support nurses and important issues like safe patient standards. The list is on MNA’s website.
There’s still time to get involved and make sure those people are elected. You can make phone calls or knock on the doors of voters who share our values but need a push and a little information to get them to vote. A list of opportunities is on MNA’s website.
Your Voting Rights
Did you know that you are entitled to paid time off in order to vote in the Nov. 4 elections?
Under state law, “every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work… without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence.” Employers are not allowed to refuse or interfere with this right, directly or indirectly, and cannot require you to use personal or vacation time. Any employer, manager, or supervisor who interferes with the right to vote is guilty of a misdemeanor under the law.
Please visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s MNVotes website for information on your rights and a sample letter to provide to your employer.
Why wait until Election Day to vote? Absentee ballots are available now, even if you are not yet registered to vote. Thanks to a new law authored by Rep. Steve Simon (MNA’s endorsed candidate for Secretary of State), any Minnesota voter can vote absentee without an excuse, essentially creating early voting for anyone who wants it.
There is still time to vote in person at your county election office. Visit MNVotes to learn more.
MNA members who work for Rice County Public Health in Faribault will see a wage increase and higher health insurance contributions from the county, thanks to a newly ratified contract.
MNA members voted yes for their new two-year contract on Sept. 19.
It includes a retroactive 2.5 percent pay increase for 2014 and a 2.75 percent raise in 2015.
“The nurses of Rice County have learned a lot through this process about the need for solidarity in the county,” said Negotiating Team member Amber Hauer.” We sent a clear message to the county negotiators that we deserve a contract without regressive terms.”
The bargaining unit gained two new members on the day of the vote.
One of them, Tracy Ackerman-Shaw, is a new employee. She said she was eager to join MNA.
“I knew the good MNA does for the members,” she said. “I believe MNA has the best interests of members in mind. They do a fantastic job negotiating the contract.”
Join other dedicated members of the Minnesota Nurses Association who are supporting MNA endorsed candidates. Go to http://www.mnnurses.org/policy-and-advocacy/election-2014-volunteer-opportunities
OR call Eileen Gavin at 651-414-2871.