May 06, 2016
Dear SEIU Nurses,
As National Nurses Week kicks off, I think back on all the incredible work SEIU nurses have done throughout the last year. Whether talking to voters about protecting the Affordable Care Act, or advocating for stronger workplace violence prevention, SEIU nurses were strongest when we stood together.
That was apparent when three hundred nurse leaders gathered in Las Vegas in October for our biennial conference: "Nurse Leadership for Healthcare Quality and Justice.” We shared best practices and heard from New York Times contributor, Theresa Brown, RN, and Deputy U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, RN, on the importance of using our trusted voice to advance standards of care in our facilities and communities. Nurses from upstate New York to Los Angeles, from acute care to public health, shared some amazing stories about how and why they became advocates in our field. It was truly an inspiring and I felt so proud to be a part of the SEIU Nurse Alliance.
At the conference and at many of the Fight for $15 days of actions throughout the year, we heard from fast food, home care, childcare, nursing home, and other low wage workers about the struggles they face trying to make ends meet.
Delores Prescott, a registered nurse at Swedish-Providence in Seattle and member of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, described why she supports the Fight for $15 workers:
"Nurses do all we can for our patients while they're in the hospital, but too often our patients don't have the financial means to manage their illnesses at home and wind up back in the hospital. That's why nurses like me are joining the Fight for $15 - we see that families everywhere need $15 an hour to stay healthy and healthcare workers need $15 to support their families while caring for others."
But we didn’t stop there. Nurses continued to advocate for on-the-job safety and workplace violence prevention standards in our states, cities, and workplaces. Vicki Gonzalez, RN and Local 1991 member at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, has been working to keep patients safe and protect colleagues from injury on the job. Gonzalez is now the head of the Safe Patient Handling project at the Jackson Health System, which is installing 220 ceiling lifts and training nurses and hospital workers to use them. Additionally, SEIU Local 121 nurses and other members of the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California led a campaign to win an enforceable comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard for healthcare. This simply would not have happened if nurses did not speak up about the prevailing problem.
We learned last year in King v. Burwell, the case that put millions of families at risk of losing affordable healthcare coverage, there is so much at stake when extremists use the U.S. Supreme Court for political gain. Earlier this year, justices heard arguments in two cases, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellersted and also Zubik vs. Burwell, that could threaten access to women’s healthcare. SEIU 121RN member, Nina Wells, authored anop-ed that outlined her concerns about employer interference in private healthcare decision if the justices rule for Zubik, a case that challenges the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Denelle Weller, a registered nurse member of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, also penned an op-ed about what’s at stake in Whole Woman’s Health, a case that seeks to shut down clinics that provide reproductive health services, including abortion. In the meantime, Britney Bowen and Chris Sagon from Local 199 in Iowa visited Washington, DC to press for Congress to do its job by holding a hearing and vote for Judge Merrick Garland to become the next Supreme Court Justice.
When we weren’t weighing in on Supreme Court cases, nurses were in states that have held primaries and caucuses. We’ve gone door-to-door to talk to voters about casting a ballot for candidates that will preserve and protect the Affordable Care Act. From Hillary Clinton on down the ticket, nurses are making sure it’s not just our voice that will make a difference, it’s our vote. Talking to voters will not stop until November when I hope we will see the first woman voted into the office of the Presidency.
Phew! It was a busy year. I have shared a lot of thoughts with you but as we kick off National Nurses Week by remembering these fitting words of Florence Nightingale:
“I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”
She would be proud of the SEIU Nurse Alliance for our actions and our results.
Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
P.S. There are some great social media graphics going out on the Nurse Alliance FaceBook page. Look for them and please share them on your networks. Here's some for you to share today - for FaceBook, for Twitter
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New Congressional report calls for additional efforts to protect healthcare workers from workplace violence
Taken from the GAO Report Summary (PDF 94 KB) post by Mark Catlin, SEIU Occupational Health and Safety Director
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), known as Congress’ watchdogs, conducted a study that evaluated OSHA’s efforts to protect healthcare workers from workplace violence. The study reports the rate of workplace violence at health care facilities is high and the severity is intensifying. The report’s key findings include:
Workplace violence is a serious concern for 15 million health care workers in the United States.
In 2013, there were 24,800 cases of violence against health care workers.
Psychiatric aides experience the highest rates of days-away-from-work injuries due to workplace violence. It is 32 times higher than for state employees overall and 293 times higher than aides in the private sector.
Violence prevention programs can reduce the rate or severity of assaults.
Nine states that have adopted a workplace violence prevention law or regulation. In California, the rate of assaults dropped in emergency rooms after the state adopted a law requiring hospitals to develop violence prevention programs.
OSHA should assess the results of its current efforts to determine whether additional action, including development of a standard, is needed.
Full GAO report(PDF 4.8 MB)
GAO report factsheet (PDF 442 KB)
“Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions, according to a review of research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. Nurses and researchers say it comes down to organizational problems in hospitals worldwide. University of Pennsylvania professor Linda Aiken said the problem is that most hospitals aren't organized to support nurses or doctors. ”They're highly bureaucratic, they're very top-down organizations, they don't really seek out clinicians' solutions for solving problems in patient care. Therefore the problems exist over decades, and they're basically not solvable by any individual nurse. ” said Aiken.
Read the full article
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) continue to provide the latest information and guidelines to help healthcare workers understand the Zika virus and learn about symptoms, control, and prevention.
Read fact sheet here (PDF 487 KB)
Studies are showing that the use of nursing coaches is an effective intervention with low income new moms. These trained nurses give mothers counseling on nutrition, how to keep a baby safe and encourage them to talk to their babies each day. The nurse coaching program requires significant initial investment, but in the long run, saves money.
Read the full article
With mass shootings becoming more and more prevalent, nurses are facing a barrage of issues about how to deal with patients, our own emotional trauma, and even media who may interfere with care. This article provides sound advice about how nurses can deal with the before and after of a mass casualty shooting.
Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article
Clinicians have typically focused on exams and the latest information from medical articles and journals to guide how they care for patients but a new study examines a movement to include “patient-reported outcomes” into clinical care. It includes patients’ assessments of their physical and mental conditions and quality of life to help guide their care.
Read the full article
As the use of opioids and heroin use has reached epidemic proportions, the Obama Administration is proposing $1.1 billion in new funding for treatment. Tens of thousands of people nationwide have died from opioid or heroin abuse each year.
Read fact sheet here
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