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Healthcare workers continue to rank high on injured-on-the-job study

25 Jul

dangerousoccupations4Nurses won’t be surprised to hear another study that finds health care workers suffer more injuries than in any other sector in the United States.  Nurses know friends and colleagues who have lost work days and income to injuries, some who even had to give up their career of bedside nursing.  The corporate focus on the bottom-line puts more weight on our shoulders, literally, as we are told to “make do” without enough hands or resources to move a patient or perform a procedure.

The proof is in the numbers.  In 2011, injuries to healthcare workers went up 6 percent while construction and agriculture-related injuries actually went down.  Work-related injuries for these workers is nearly 8 times greater than for other workers.  Injuries related to workplace violence is 7 times higher than for other types of workers.

What’s even more surprising is the extent of the problem and the lack of government regulation of health care worksites.  If you ask the general public which occupation has the most workplace injuries, most would guess construction trades, and that seems to be the assumption OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) works under as well.  A new report by Public Citizen finds that while health care workers greatly outnumber construction workers (and we suffer more than double the number of injuries annually), OSHA conducts nearly twenty times as many inspections of construction sites as they do of health care facilities.

OSHA does have a good track record of success in enforcing existing standards for health care facilities (the Bloodborne Pathogens standard, for example, has dramatically decreased the rates of Hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS infections among health care workers).  However (and it’s a big however), there are no OSHA standards for two of the worst safety hazards in health care today:  unsafe ergonomic conditions and workplace violence. Without specific standards to address these common hazards, OSHA is extremely limited in their ability to protect health care workers.

Does your workplace have strategies to protect you from ergonomic hazards or workplace violence? Are nurses involved in planning and implementing these programs? Would you like to work on these issues from a statewide perspective? The MNA Health and Safety Committee is seeking new members to educate nurses about these issues and many more in our workplaces. Please contact Geri Katz at 651-414-2855 or if you are interested in learning more about joining the committee.

Learn more:

Read the report:

NNU Co-President Karen Higgins interview:

Huffington Post: The Hidden Health Care Problem

Crowd of Nurses Support Essentia Bargaining Team; Tentative Agreement Won in 33 Hr. Marathon

14 Jun

More than 225 nurses and supporters showed up in red to support Essentia contract bargaining.

First there was the crowd.  Then there were the signs.  Then there were the red uniforms that adorned every man, woman, and child in the auditorium.  The scene was set for a champion sports team to walk in the room, but this huge crowd was there to see the contract negotiators.  When they entered the room, more than 225 nurses and their families cheered and applauded to show solidarity with their elected bargaining team at the Essentia-St. Mary’s contract talks and bid good morning to management’s team.  In the end, nurses won an agreement with management they could say is the result of  hard work by the negotiating team, but also because nurses showed Essentia that nurses are united and strong.


Virginia nurses drove quite a ways to show solidarity with Essentia-St. Mary’s nurses.

“It was fabulous-awesome, just awesome,” said Mary Kirsling, RN, a member of the nurse negotiating team, “I was overwhelmed by the turnout.  We exceeded our expectations.”

Nurses at St. Mary’s used their well-established Member Action Teams (MATs) to map out the entire hospital.  They mobilized nurses to show up for the first day of negotiations using constantly refined lists of nurse’s names, emails, and phone numbers.   With the MAT data, nurses estimate they talked to 80 percent of all the nurses in the hospital just over the last 10 days.


State legislators Jason Metsa and Erik Simonson of Duluth also showed up to show their support for negotiating nurses.

“We had people who were designated to come up and talk to people and commit to be here,” Kirsling said,  “almost everyone in the house, every unit has a representation steward, and so they would talk to all the people in their unit and get five people to commit to be here.”

Essentia nurses got a bonus too.  They supported St. Luke’s nurse contract bargaining team two months ago.  Now the St. Luke’s team showed up to repay the favor.

“Nurses from St. Luke’s and people from Virginia, that’s a long way to drive and it’s nice to feel that support,” Kirsling said.   “We’re going to show support for each other and we stand a lot more united today than we ever have in the history of MNA here.  In the state, I think we feel a lot more solidarity with each other.”

Essentia bargaining team

Essentia bargaining team

Nurses knew from talking to each other that there was a lot riding on this contract.  While wages are the main item on the table, Kirsling said nurses are standing together for time off to be properly educated to take care of their patients.  Her fellow bargaining team member agreed.

“Nurses can’t just wing it everyday, and you don’t want to wing it for our patients.  That’s not conducive to patient safety or good patient care,” said Kellie Brickson, RN, at Miller-Dwan, “you want educated nurses.  We have to be ready to take care of whatever situation comes in.”

Brickson and Kirsling mentioned the constantly changing state of technology as an issue that nurses fight to stay on top of.

“If we were given time to do our required education away from patient care, that would help us.  Sometimes we’re told that we just need to do it on downtime and we don’t always have downtime,” Brickson said.

Future nurses?

MNA nurses have strong family support too.

“I don’t know if there’s a day gone by in my nursing career of some 42 years that I haven’t learned something,” Kirsling said.

“We are here to settle our contract because it’s important for our patients and for safe patient care. We would like to get good language so that we are better able to serve our patients and keep our patients safe,” Brickson added.

The huge turnout for the team showed that wheels are in motion to get that.

MNA members in red

Sea of red prepares to greet hospital negotiators

“I think it totally set the stage.  Our CNO walked in and saw all those people with red on and knew that it wasn’t just 8 of us sitting at the table,” Kirsling said,  “there’s thousands of us sitting at that table.”

On the afternoon of June 11, after nearly 33 straight hours of negotiations, the nurses bargaining team reached a tentative agreement with Essentia Management. The elected RN negotiating team unanimously recommends the agreement to the bargaining unit.  Details include:

  • Across the board Raises 4.5% over the next three years-   2  / 1.5%  / 1 %
  • $500 bonus every year for the next 3 years for St. Mary’s –Miller Dwan & St. Mary’s Superior RNs as well as St. Mary’s Superior LPNs
  • Expansion of benefit bereavement leave and funeral leave for same sex partners
  • Kentucky River Language to protect Assistant Head Nurses and other Bargaining Unit RNs
  • Revision and renewal of staffing plan (grids) and other Letters of Understanding
  • Accretion of Superior LPN and RN’s into the St. Mary’s – Miller Dwan Contract

Mankato Nurses Boldly Begin Negotiations with Community Utmost in Mind

23 May

Solidarity 470 Registered Nurses at Mankato Mayo entered contract negotiations today as a united group determined to address troubling staffing issues at the hospital that members believe put patients at risk. Lead MNA negotiator David Nachreiner reflected the views of the mass of responses the team collected from colleagues throughout the hospital as he read the Opening Statement.

“My colleagues and I approach these negotiations with one primary focus.   We believe our patients – our families, friends and neighbors of this community – face unnecessary risk when they require the services of this hospital.  They face that risk primarily due to inadequate staffing and poor planning.

The nurses of this bargaining unit are very concerned about the staffing shortages we experience every day.  Each of us receives about five texts a day requesting us to pick up shifts.  How can that be safe?  Especially when we’ve already worked 8, 9, 10 or 12 hours.  Ladies and gentlemen, hoping nurses will respond to relentless texts is not a plan.

“The lack of devotion on the part of this administration regarding safe staffing only creates a dangerous environment to people of our community when they at their most vulnerable.

Signing in for colleagues who wanted to join the Negotiating Team in spirit.

Signing in for colleagues who wanted to join the Negotiating Team in spirit.

“To retain the quality RN workforce this community deserves – to make Mankato a destination Medical Center of its own – requires commitment and the power of collaboration.  Unfortunately, we are troubled by recent actions that minimizes the mutual trust you hope for, exemplified by the unilateral changes made in health insurance benefits without input or consideration of impact to nurses.

“It’s time these negotiations bring a fair and positive agreement that rewards our dedication, our skill and our professional knowledge. It’s time we combine our expertise to reach an agreement that will recruit the best of the best and keep the finest of the finest. We are confident that fair wages, robust insurance and most of all, ethical staffing plans developed in partnership will lead to the quality care our community expects and values.

“Have no doubt, you will find my colleagues and I are fiercely united in our positions – we hope you join us for the sake of our patients and neighbors.”

MNA NewsScan, May 22, 2013: More proof- heart patients survive with better nurse staffing

22 May


More Proof:  Heart Patients Survive with Better Nurse Staffing    “This finding suggests that the correlation between cardiac arrest incidence and case survival was partly attributable to the hospital factors in the model,” the authors write. A hospital’s nurse-to-bed ratio and geographic region correlated with the greatest shift in the relationship between incidence and survival.

Moore MCHero Nurse Protects Newborn from Tornado   Miraculously, all the staff, patients and families survived the storm.  That includes nurse Cheryl Stoepker, who used her own body to protect a newborn she’d delivered barely an hour earlier.


UMass Nurses Poised to Strike if Today’s Negotiations Fail   Nurses at UMass Memorial’s University Campus are staging the 24-hour strike to draw attention to what they call deplorable patient conditions.

Median CEO Pay Rises to $9.7M in 2012   CEO pay, which fell two years straight during the Great Recession but rose 24 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011, has never been higher. Meanwhile, Pay for all U.S. workers rose 1.1 percent in 2010, 1.2 percent in 2011 and 1.6 percent last year – not enough to keep up with inflation.

MNA NewsScan, May 20, 2013: MN health care innovation cuts costs for the poor; poverty up in the suburbs

20 May


Is the Future of American Health Care in Oregon?   “The governor has a notion that you can move away from medical billing and towards a more flexible approach to health-care spending that makes more sense for the community,” John McConnell, a health economist at Oregon Health and Science University, is telling me. Then he stops. “You’ve heard the air conditioner story, right?”

Medicaid Opposition Underscores States’ Health Care Disparities   Republican opposition in many statehouses to expanding Medicaid next year under President Obama‘s healthcare law — opposition that could leave millions of the nation’s poorest residents without insurance coverage — will likely widen the divide between the nation’s healthiest and sickest states.

Minnesota Health Care Program Cuts Costs for the Poor   Many other states are simply cutting medical assistance funds or moving patients into private managed-care health plans in hopes of saving money. But Minnesota is exploring new options like Hennepin Health in which the state contracts directly with county or medical providers who have banded together to provide care for a certain number of patients — giving them greater control of medical assistance dollars and, in turn, more freedom to innovate and focus on preventive care.


Twin Cities’ Rise in Suburban Poverty Among Highest in Nation   The Brookings Institution on Monday will release a study ranking the Twin Cities area among the nation’s top 10 major metropolitan areas for the speed at which suburban poverty is rising. Its analysis says the number of suburban Minnesotans living in poverty more than doubled between 2000 and 2011.

Be MNA! Run for Statewide Elected Office

14 May

Candidate Forms Are Due

June 15.

MNA members, be involved in making decisions and directly working towards advancing the goals and mission of MNA as established by the House of Delegates.

Submit your name for one of the many elected offices listed on the Call for Candidates Form. Many different opportunities are available that could reflect your passion – from collective bargaining and organizational governance, to education and practice-specific work or governmental affairs.

Nominations for the offices listed on page 1 of the MNA Call for Candidates Form will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on June 15, 2013.

You must sign the form and submit via one of the following methods:

  1. Mail or bring to the MNA office 345 Randolph Avenue #200, St. Paul, MN 55102
  2. Fax 651-695-7000
  3. E-Mail

The Call for Candidates Form is located on the Member Portal and may be completed on line, but then must be printed out, signed, and returned by one of the above methods.  You can also download all forms and explanations from the Spring 2013 issue of the Minnesota Nursing Accent, here.

In accordance with the MNA Board of Directors policy (also available on the Member Portal), there will be no write-in candidates on the ballot.

If you have any questions regarding the election, please contact either Samantha Riazi or Julie Kinsel.

The election timeline has changed since the last election cycle. Please make note of the dates.


June 15          Deadline to submit Call for Candidate Forms
July 15 The Election Committee will submit a ballot to the MNA President by this date and a sample ballot will be publicized to membership on the MNA website.
Oct. 15 Ballots sent out via U.S. Postal Service First Class to allow for the election to take place in November per MNA Bylaws
Nov. 15 Deadline for election ballots to be received
December All elected MNA Board members and Commissioners will be notified as soon as election results are known.  All other elected candidates will be notified after the Official Teller’s Report is made public on the MNA website
Jan. 1, 2014 Newly elected assume office.

MNA NewsScan, May 13, 2013: Fund set for RNs, colleagues lost in limo fire; ND highest in worker death

13 May


Angels Fund Set Up for RNs and Co-Workers Lost in Limo Fire   This year’s Nurses Week was sadly darkened by the death of two RNs and three other caregivers in a tragic limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area.

UMass Nurses Will Strike Over Poor Patient Care Conditions    After posting more than $88 million in profits, UMass Memorial Medical Center has slashed its nursing and support staff in the last two years.


Dairy Queen Offers Grads Their First Job – Without Pay    Edina-based Dairy Queen is giving new college grads the chance to shill for its Orange Julius brand.

North Dakota Leads Nation in Rate of Worker Deaths   North Dakota had a workplace fatality rate that was more than three times greater than the national average and more than five times greater than Minnesota’s rate.


Health Care Plan Needed for End of Life   Never in human existence has dying been more complicated. Before the onset of modern medicine, most people died quickly from an acute event such as trauma or the effects of infection. Today most deaths are a slow process of decline.

The Skyhigh Price of Chemotherapy:  Why Do Cancer Drugs Cost So Much?  Overall, cancer drug prices are skyrocketing. Of the 12 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for various cancer conditions in 2012, 11 were priced above $100,000 for a year of treatment.

Study:  Nearly One-Third of All Death Certificates Are Wrong   As to why doctors were reporting inaccurate causes of death, it actually appears to be a weirdly bureaucratic reason: Three-quarters said the system they use in New York City would not accept what they thought to be the real cause of death.

MNA NewsScan, May 8, 2013: Kaiser battle=sign of vibrant HC unions

8 May



HHS Secretary Sebelius Hails Nurses   National Nurses Week gives us a chance to recognize the contribution of the health care providers at the heart of our health care system.  Every day, nurses provide leadership, innovation and advocacy to meet the health care needs of Americans.

Advanced Nurses Lower Costs, Improve Care   Studies find that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who provide preventive  care are as effective as primary-care physicians in accuracy of diagnosis and  prescription.


The Labor Market Won’t Be Healthy Until People Feel Like they Can Quit Their Jobs  The unemployment rate may be falling and the number of jobs rising. But there isn’t enough “churn” going on, a hallmark of a healthy job market, in which people freely move between positions.

Daily Job Death Toll:  150 Workers    The report finds that along with the 4,693 workers killed on the job in 2011 (about 13 a day)—the last figures available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—an estimated 50,000 workers a year (about 137 a day) die from occupational diseases. In addition, some 3.8 workers are reported to suffer job-related injuries or illnesses each year.

Battle at Kaiser Permanente is Sign of Vibrant Health Care Unions   “The old image is of a union worker being a steel worker or an auto worker but the typical person today is a teacher, nurse, firefighter or airline pilot. Nurses are one of the most unionized groups in society,” said Alex Colvin, who chairs the labor relations department at Cornell University. “This isn’t an area where unions are dying.”


Slowdown in Rise of Health Care Costs May Persist    David M. Cutler estimates that, given the dynamics of the slowdown, economists might be overestimating public health spending over the next decade by as much as $770 billion.  Related:  Structural Changes May Be Foundation for Containment 

Same Procedure, $30K Difference in Hospital Billing   For the first time, the federal government has released the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Until now, these charges have been closely held by facilities that see a competitive advantage in shielding their fees from competitors. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.

MNA NewsScan, May 6, 2013: Happy Nurses Week

6 May


Sen. Boxer Proposes Federal Regulation for Nurse-to-Patient Ratios    “I am proud to introduce legislation that will help save the lives of countless  patients by improving the quality of care in our nation’s hospitals,” Boxer said  Tuesday. “We must support the nurses who work tirelessly every day to provide  the best possible care to their patients.”

HHS to Fund Solders-to-Nurses Program   A new program will help military veterans with healthcare experience or training  to build on their skills and abilities and earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing,  Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this week.

Nurses Drowning in a Sea of Paperwork   Nurses are “drowning in a sea of paperwork” with more than one-sixth of the working week taken up doing non-essential paperwork, a survey suggests.

Nurses Lead the Way in Better Diabetes Outcomes  A program led by certified diabetes nurse educators helped patients titrate insulin and improve key diabetes parameters, researchers reported here.

MNA NewsScan, May 1, 2013: May Day!

1 May


CEO Pay Gap Up 1000% Since 1950    Today Fortune 500 CEOs make 204 times regular workers on average, Bloomberg found. The ratio is up from 120-to-1 in 2000, 42-to-1 in 1980 and 20-to-1 in 1950.

Worldwide May Day Rallies Thousands of low-paid workers are rallying in the streets on May Day to demand better pay and improved working conditions a week after a Bangladesh building collapse that was a grim reminder of how lax safety regulations make work a danger in poor countries.

Health Care Dominates Highest Paying Jobs (no surprise:  nurses excluded) in America   Anesthesiologists top the list with average annual pay of $232,830 as of 2012, the latest year for which official figures are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

House Panel OKs Minimum Wage Hike    “Where the hell are the workers in this particular argument?” Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, asked before the measure passed. “There used to be a compact: eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of family. … It is time America, and Minnesota, and this world, get back to that particular attitude.”

Solidarity Forever!  Listen to the worker’s anthem by Pete Seeger

Today in Labor History  – May 01

  • Mary Harris “Mother” Jones born in County Cork, Ireland – 1830 (Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America: Her rallying cry was famous: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” A century ago, Mother Jones was a celebrated organizer and agitator, the very soul of the modern American labor movement. At coal strikes, steel strikes, railroad, textile, and brewery strikes, Mother Jones was always there, stirring the workers to action and enraging the powerful. In this first biography of “the most dangerous woman in America,” Elliott J. Gorn proves why, in the words of Eugene V. Debs, Mother Jones “has won her way into the hearts of the nation’s toilers, and… will be lovingly remembered by their children and their children’s children forever.”)
  • Cigar makers in Cincinnati warn there could be a strike in the fall if factory owners continue to insist that they pay 30¢ per month for gas heat provided at work during mornings and evenings – 1883
  • Eight-hour day demonstration in Chicago and other cities begins tradition of May Day as international labor holiday – 1886
  • The Cooks’ and Waiters’ Union strikes in San Francisco, demanding one day of rest per week, a 10-hour work day and a union shop for all restaurants in the city – 1901
  • Mother Jones’ 100th birthday celebrated at the Burgess Farm in Adelphi, Md. She died six months later – 1930
  • New York City’s Empire State Building officially opens. Construction involved 3,400 workers, mostly immigrants from Europe, and hundreds of Mohawk iron workers. Five workers died during construction – 1931
  • Congress enacts amendments to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, extending protections to the employees of state and local governments—protections which didn’t take effect until 1985 because of court challenges and regulation-writing problems – 1974
  • The federal minimum wage rises to $2 per hour – 1974
  • Int’l Molders & Allied Workers Union merges with Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Int’l Union – 1988
  • Woodworkers of America Int’l merges with Int’l Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers – 1994
  • Int’l Leather Goods, Plastics & Novelty Workers Union merges with Service Employees Int’l Union – 1996
  • Rallies in cities across the U.S. for what organizers call “A Day Without Immigrants.” An estimated 100,000 immigrants and sympathizers gathered in San Jose, Calif., 200,000 in New York, 400,000 each in Chicago and Los Angeles. In all, there were demonstrations in at least 50 cities – 2006 (Immigrants, Unions, and the New U.S. Labor Market: In recent years, New Yorkers have been surprised to see workers they had taken for granted—Mexicans in greengroceries, West African supermarket deliverymen and South Asian limousine drivers—striking, picketing, and seeking support for better working conditions. Suddenly, businesses in New York and across the nation had changed and were now dependent upon low-paid immigrants to fill entry-level jobs.)


Park Nicollet, HealthPartners to Build Clinic in Plymouth   The site of a former driving range in western Plymouth soon will be home to a 60,000-square-foot medical and dental clinic jointly run by Park Nicollet and HealthPartners.


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