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Hospital Staffing Cuts - Pragmatic, Panic or Carefully Planned?
Date:5/1/2009

adgetry or architecturally-inspired surroundings. "They've projected at least $300 million in construction costs for the next three years at Children's Hospitals and Clinics," said Melissa Hansing, RN, MNA Tri-Chair and staff nurse in Children's emergency department. "My questions: Bricks and mortar may impress financiers, but what is going on behind the walls? Aren't critically ill patients being attended to by overworked, fatigued nursing personnel who simply do not have enough colleagues on each shift? How do you justify cutting corners on skilled personnel at the bedside, when studies conclusively prove the increased risk to patients when staffing is not adequate?"

The claim that patient volume is down conceals the fact that nurses are working with a much sicker, more complex patient population. The Medicare Case-Mix Index (MCI) reflects the increased intensity (sometimes called severity) or hospital resource requirements of treating Medicare patients over time. Methodist Hospital's recent financial disclosure, available at munifilings.com, reveals the disturbing evidence. "In the last quarter, Methodist Hospital saw their MCI increase 5.3% over 2007's 4th quarter," said Margaret Gamble, RN. "My question: how do hospital accountants expect nurses to speed up healing time?"

Hospital schemes to wring wage concessions out of its workforce falsely depict an image that administrators are simply starting to ask for communal sacrifice. "When we all pitch in, we'll make things better," they claim. Nurses have been pitching in for quite a while now.

"I've already reduced my salary by 3% because I've agreed to reduce my workdays - without pay - when patient volume was low in the past 3 months," said Juli Uzlik, RN of Fairview Southdale. The unspoken practice of nurses working off the clock over meal breaks or after they punch out also effectively donates time to the hospital bottom line. Ms. Uzlik went on to say, "Four
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SOURCE Minnesota Nurses Association
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