University of Iowa nurses plan protest over nurse-patient ratios

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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University of Iowa Health Care leaders have notified employees that nurses in the coming weeks will face “some of the most challenging” staffing to date — warning that nurses in some units at times will have to take on five patients at once.


“The first two weeks of October present the most staffing challenges,” a UIHC leader warned employees last week, according to an email provided to The Gazette. “But the challenges will continue for the adult inpatient staffing through mid-November. I have already received some feedback and suggestions from staff on how to have staff safely care for five patients.”


Some UIHC nurses report the “increase in nurse-patient ratios” is out of line, and they’ve coordinated a protest over it outside the hospital for Thursday.


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“We refuse to let our hospital administrators make poor decisions that affect our quality of care because they couldn't plan well and prepare properly,” according to a Facebook event page for the protest encouraging staff, patients, family and managers to “bring the cowbell, noisemakers, signs, ALL of it!”


The protest is planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday along Hawkins Drive outside Parking Ramp 3.


“Increasing nurse-patient ratios is NOT the answer,” according to the event page. “You can't have quality and safety as a priority when you stretch your nurses so thin they go home crying!!”


In response to The Gazette’s questions on nurse shortages and whether UIHC is upping nurse-patient ratios, officials did not say whether five patients per nurse was an increase and, if so, by how much. UI Health Care did provide a statement characterizing any staffing changes as optional.


“Hospital staffing needs can change quickly based on the number of patients and their level of acuity (severity of illness),” according to the statement. “When more staff are needed, existing staff have the option to pick up additional shifts or hours for additional pay.”


UIHC “is committed — and always will be — to providing safe, high-quality care,” the statement said. “This means having a team of staff who care for patients in a safe, supportive work environment.”


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Among strategies UIHC has employed to manage ongoing nursing shortages is use of travel nurses — who come for several months at a time and are compensated through contracts the university signs with temporary nursing agencies. Those nurses typically are paid more than staff nurses.


In response to questions about whether its travel nurse contracts are changing or whether its travel nurse staffing is or has shifted in any way, UIHC officials said, “travel nurse contracts has stayed consistent at UI Health Care.”


“The number of travel nurses who accept those roles may vary from month to month. Traveler rates vary based on supply and demand and prevailing market rates, and we continue to pay contractual rates that are competitive in the market.”


Near capacity​


Out of the university’s 866 inpatient beds, 805 were being used Wednesday, putting it at 93 percent full.


The UI job website, among other health care openings, lists 380 open “nursing” positions, including 144 full-time posts and 236 part-time jobs across the campus — from labor and deliver to adult psychiatry and from nurse management positions to nursing assistants.


In the Friday email warning of staffing needs amid shortages, a UIHC unit leader said, “We are open to all suggestions on how to staff during these challenges.”


“You can expect to see leadership on the floor more often to try and mediate some of the holes while balancing what we need to accomplish in the office,” the email said. “I know this is really hard to hear for all of us, and I understand the feelings of being frustrated and nervous for what the future is going to bring. I do hope we can all come together to help get through this as a team.”


In a statement, UI Hospitals and Clinics Interim Chief Executive Officer Kim Hunter reiterated, “We are committed to providing safe, high-quality care that Iowans trust us to deliver while also striving to support the health and well-being of our employees.”


“In health care, staffing is flexible and we safely match resources with constantly changing patient care needs,” she said. “We are grateful for our nursing and care teams who come together to support one another as they care for our patients and their families.”


New buildings, leadership​


UIHC is nearing the end of its search for a new Vice President of Medical Affairs of UI Health Care and dean of its Carver College of Medicine, after outgoing Brooks Jackson in February announced plans to step down and join the UI faculty as a researcher.


Jackson committed to stay on until his successor starts, and a nationwide search recently brought four finalists to campus — a pool that included two women and two men, two who identify as racial minorities, coming from institutions across the country, including Chicago, Dartmouth in New Hampshire and the University of North Carolina.


UI President Barbara Wilson hasn’t announced a final selection.


Once that person is in place, the university will start on replacing hospitals and clinics CEO Suresh Gunasekaran, who left in February to lead the University of California San Francisco Academic Health System.


Turnover atop UIHC comes as the enterprise moves forward with a new $525.6 million hospital campus in North Liberty; a $95 million expansion of its inpatient tower; and a $24.6 million emergency room expansion, among other projects.


The campus additionally has aired plans to spend $620.9 million over the next five years on a new inpatient tower on the main UIHC campus and $212 million on a new “modern health care research facility.”

 

Titanhawk2

HR Legend
Jul 14, 2011
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So in reality, they are protesting the people who are sick or the people who are not choosing to be nurses. It's almost like me protesting a restaurant that can't find enough people to work or is too popular to find a place to sit
 

EagleHawk

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Jan 16, 2002
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Jackson committed to stay on until his successor starts, and a nationwide search recently brought four finalists to campus — a pool that included two women and two men, two who identify as racial minorities, coming from institutions across the country, including Chicago, Dartmouth in New Hampshire and the University of North Carolina.
So are they, or do they just identify that way? Cause I don't want to see a Rachel Dolezal situation in a couple of months and make the university look bad.
 

onlyTheObvious

HR Heisman
Jan 3, 2021
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Should we “Wave” at them?

At what point does some institution tap in to the crazy money athletics is bringing in for the common good of the institution and its students/employees ?

Athletics needs that money to sustain succes so they can bring in more money all to be used to sustain that success. Does that make any sense at all?
 

GOHOX69

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Sep 26, 2009
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Should we “Wave” at them?

At what point does some institution tap in to the crazy money athletics is bringing in for the common good of the institution and its students/employees ?

Athletics needs that money to sustain succes so they can bring in more money all to be used to sustain that success. Does that make any sense at all?
Don't say crazy things man. It's all about sports yo and nil and all that shit. Who cares about education?
 
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JMNSHO

HR Heisman
Mar 11, 2010
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There is no shortage of nurses. There is a shortage of people with nursing training wanting to practice nursing with pts rather than spend all day in meetings and on webinars. Working conditions and the nature of compensation are reinforcing this dynamic. Actions like those described in the op might help. My experience is in skilled nursing facilities, but I doubt hospitals are much different. Seems like most BSNs and above have a very limited shelf life on the floor. Maybe a regulatory change might help change the dynamics.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Gold Member
Oct 13, 2006
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Should we “Wave” at them?

At what point does some institution tap in to the crazy money athletics is bringing in for the common good of the institution and its students/employees ?

Athletics needs that money to sustain succes so they can bring in more money all to be used to sustain that success. Does that make any sense at all?
....forgot to add that football basically pays for all the non-revenue sports.
 
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EasyHawk

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About right when the vaccine came out, an anti-vaxxer family member was in the U of I hospital for a couple weeks. He kept telling us that everyone he asked there told him he shouldn't get the vax. We didn't believe him, but when we could visit, three different nurses came in at various times and he asked each one about getting the vax and they would kind of look around and then say they would not get it. They would wait to see what issues it causes in people, it was rushed, etc. At least one said she had to get it to keep her job, but for anyone that didn't have to she would not do it. I was really surprised. We told him to ask his cardiologist, I doubt he did.
 

onlyTheObvious

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Jan 3, 2021
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....forgot to add that football basically pays for all the non-revenue sports.
You telling me they need the plush accommodations and all the extras? If it does nothing but make a crap ton of money that has to be used to make another crap ton what is the point?

What dollar amount would be the tipping point? Will athletics make a billion dollars in the next decade? Roflmao if somebody is going to say they have to have the entire billion.
 

EagleHawk

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Jan 16, 2002
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Yes, we need more 3rd rate soccer and volleyball players. Sports which parents and boyfriends/girlfriends attend.
I'll give you soccer, but volleyball is doing quite well for attendance and only going to grow as it becomes more visible on television.
 
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binsfeldcyhawk2

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 13, 2006
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You telling me they need the plush accommodations and all the extras? If it does nothing but make a crap ton of money that has to be used to make another crap ton what is the point?

What dollar amount would be the tipping point? Will athletics make a billion dollars in the next decade? Roflmao if somebody is going to say they have to have the entire billion.
If sports pay for themselves what are you bitching about?