Good Morning, Friends! Let’s have coffee and chat about Nursing

By February 4, 2016Advocacy, Nursing

It is 0430, and I am on coffee #1 so no judging the grammar or spelling! ūüôā

I am not sure you realize how awesome it feels to help nursing grow and perceptions change every single day!  I want you to feel it too.  SMYS for Change is our Breakout group for people who want to be kept aware of nursing issues, and help to repair broken processes.  We are a bunch of engaged and excited nurses, and we need you.

A few years ago, I had an odd experience with a patient that I would like to tell you about.

I was doing critical care float, so I visited a lot of units in the hospital. The common theme was that they were understaffed, or they wouldn’t have been paying my pretty high salary to cover their shortfall. ¬†I had a decent assignment, though it was heavier than it should have been.

So, naturally one of my patients arrested. (This incident cured me of ever being positive about an assignment…)

This was a small nursing unit, so there were not many staff.  3 nurses and one tech that night to be exact. We called a code and worked it until he died.  Then post-mortem care, calling the coroner, who had to pick the patient up since his surgery had been within a few days. And the family was horrified, because he had been doing so well. The thought he was out of the woods.  So that was another hour of comforting people and attempting to answer questions I did not know the answer to.

And when I came out, one of my POD 1 patients was standing in the hallway with blood dripping out of her arm, soiled pajamas, and a pissed-off look on her face.

I Can’t say I blame her. ¬†She rang the call light for over half an hour, then finally got up unassisted, ripping her IV out in the process, and tried to walk to the bathroom, but didn’t quite make it. ¬†The code was going on on the other side of the unit, so she had no idea what was going on.

I told her I was sorry repeatedly as I got her cleaned up, restarted her IV, and got her settled. ¬†She kept asking me why no one came, and why her call light was turned off several times. ¬†I couldn’t say we were understaffed because it was against the rules. ¬†One of my coworkers apparently turned her light off a few times rather than answering it.

I was pretty mad about that last part,

When I asked the staff on the floor why someone kept turning her call light off, I was told that the nurse who did it was waiting for a doc to call back and that the sound was ‘driving her crazy’. ¬†I calmly explained that this was unacceptable behavior, and that taking care of the patient’s needs was more important than sitting there waiting for a phone call. ¬†I was told that ‘you are making plenty of money to be here. ¬†You can take care of your own patients.’

I told my boss that I would never go back to that unit again.  I had an opportunity to speak with the Nurse Manager of the floor a few days later, because I told the day charge she had some serious teamwork and patient safety issues to take care of.

The Nurse Manager was horrified. ¬†I told her that her satisfaction survey would be awful, and that I completely understood why. ¬†Because I sure as hell wouldn’t be happy if some jerk turned off my call light while I was helpless because¬†the¬†float¬†nurse made extra money for being flexible and getting cancelled a lot.

Teamwork. Unity. Safe Patient Care.

What are you waiting for? SMYS for change is just a click away.  Make a difference by advocating for you.

Love,

Janie

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Author Janie Garner

More posts by Janie Garner

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Betty says:

    I feel the best example of team work is found in the OR. Having worked there for 25 years, I have seen people put their differences aside for the sake of the patient. It did seem to some of the employees that management tried to throw a monkey wrench into our happy family but we survived. I, for one, loved my scrub nurses. The experience and knowledge they have can get an inexperienced nurse through any procedure. Thanks to all my coworkers for a great 25 years.

  • Lisa says:

    Your story is powerful Janie but as I’ve stated before, you are a gifted writer, a true storyteller.

  • Sandy Tusa says:

    The problem is that we are told “we don’t staff for maybe anymore” The problem is that health care is a maybe, and often emergencies blow those maybes out of the water. We need to staff foe maybes’. Decrease nursing burnout and disillusionment, as well as increasing patient safety and patient satisfaction. I love where I work and always tell my patients that I love it because we are allowed to staff for maybes.
    PS. I have worked at this for 30 years and done every type of nursing, including Admin. I have also left positions where I felt staff were left in unsafe positions and endangering the patient.

  • Karen says:

    You hit nail on the head. I’m in all the way.

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