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Workers voice ills outside VA

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Registered nurse Jacqueline Perry acknowledges honking cars as she leads an informational picket at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.
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Chanting "Hey hey, ho ho, unsafe staffing's got to go," registered nurses and others at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center staged an informational picket Wednesday to protest what they say is a lack of staffers and unreasonable reassignments.

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Registered nurse Jacqueline Perry leads protesters outside the hospital. Some of the protesters said they are working with too few people; others said they have been reassigned.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Registered nurse Jacqueline Perry leads protesters outside the hospital. Some of the protesters said they are working with too few people; others said they have been reassigned.

Linda Carter, a steward for National Nurses Union Local 509, said she was handed a letter Aug. 23 telling her she was no longer an admissions nurse but would be working in the telemetry unit, where three RNs had recently departed.

"You tell me how magically I'm supposed to make up (for three positions)," she said. "The unit manager didn't even know I was coming."

It is like that all over the hospital, where the union says 107 RN positions have been reassigned or relocated. Many of those clinic or outpatient nurses have had floor duties added without adequate retraining, said Ron Schnebelt, an RN in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and a steward for the union. Some of those nurses have not worked a floor in 20 to 30 years, he said.

It is not just the RNs but all other workers are short-staffed too, said Charles Day, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 217, which represents the rest of the VA union personnel and supported the protest.

"It's all interconnected," he said.

The staff complained to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and asked for a meeting, but when Isakson came to Augusta recently he did not talk to them, Carter said.

In a statement, Augusta VA Director Rebecca Wiley said the nurses are valued.

"Currently we are meeting with the union to address their concerns; and we are also in the process of examining in detail work schedules in an effort to appropriately assess and align nurses in the most effective areas where their services and expertise are required," she said.

Schnebelt said no such dialogue is taking place, however.

"We're really not being told much of anything," Carter said. "There's been minimal dialogue between the administration and the RNs."

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double_standard
166
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double_standard 09/08/10 - 01:04 pm
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Don't feel bad Johnny won't

Don't feel bad Johnny won't speak for us on the senate floor nothing surprises me about the 2 clowns we have for senators.

boredinaug
97
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boredinaug 09/08/10 - 02:13 pm
0
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Unfortunately, what is

Unfortunately, what is happening all over the place with jobs, is also happening in the field of nursing. Jobs are being cut and more and more responsibility (with no additional pay) is being placed on the individuals who remain. My mother works as an RN in SC and has been with the same hospital for almost 30 years. This is the FIRST year since her hire that she will receive NO raise and has actually had many of her job benefits reduced or completely taken away. In addition, she now has to be extremely flexible with her hours and job position, often filling in wherever she is needed- her speciality or not. I don't believe the VA Hospital and my mom's hospital are alone on this. I hate this situation for our Veterans and the nurses who provide them care...hopefully, something fair to both sides can be worked out between the hospital and the nurses.

dvdbiggs
13
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dvdbiggs 09/08/10 - 03:10 pm
0
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Don't count on any senator or

Don't count on any senator or congressman from Georgia taking the time to meet with staff. Unfortunately once these officials are elected, they become brain dead. All they care about is their salary and rubbing noses with other politicians. I hope that the nurses will get the attention that they need from the public and that action will be taken against management at the VA. Glad to see the other union at the VA is supporting the nurses also. Rebecca Wiley find another job !

mar_1081
0
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mar_1081 09/08/10 - 02:28 pm
0
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The VA has the worst care

The VA has the worst care already. The nurses and doctors tend to be terrible. My grandfather was at the VA hospital and we were sorely disappointed with the quality of care. It seemed they had plenty of nurses standing around and doing nothing and few nurses who actually worked. Further, the nurses who were working had complete lack of expierence or knowledge. I would never bring him back there anymore.

chascush
0
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chascush 09/08/10 - 02:29 pm
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Why is this happening? I

Why is this happening? I won't accept that it is Bush fault for this one

Just My Opinion
6251
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Just My Opinion 09/08/10 - 02:37 pm
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Folks, I think I know what

Folks, I think I know what part of the problem is. People who get into Nursing, and other medical fields, usually get into it because they want to have a career where they can help people in times of need. For years, anyone who worked in a hospital (including administrators) was looked upon as coming from a place that cares and will attend to people until they are made well. Over the years, hospitals have turned from being places where you went to get better, to places of business. It's ALL about the money now. A great example is Trinity Hospital. Most "old time" Augusta residents remember St. Joseph Hospital as being a place where you'd have plenty of nurses and staff to care for you. You used to get a complimentary basin full of toiletries. The floors were mopped daily and waxed on a routine basis. You'd get a FREE little birthday cake on your special day! Now?? Forget it!! If they can't charge you for it, you ain't getting it! And they are certainly not the only hospital doing that. They are all in the business of making money, not caring. THAT is why places like the VA have such horrible staffing issues. More often than not, the first place administrators make the cuts are the positions that are closest to the patient, when it should be the other way around.

dvdbiggs
13
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dvdbiggs 09/08/10 - 03:06 pm
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Just My Opinion, you have hit

Just My Opinion, you have hit the nail on the head. I witnessed this at the VA once they started trying to "milk" every penny that they could out of the veteran for his/ her care. They need to cut the huge bonus payments and outrageous salaries of the Director/ management employees. They could hire a lot of nurses with what they save on these cuts. The paralyzed veteran’s organization needs to get involved with these nurses, especially on the Spinal Cord Units. Management should be required to post bonus payments and salaries in this newspaper. Believe me, it is the worker bees that should earn any extra money, they are the ones that take care of the veteran. The Queen just has to sit on her throne with all of her drones doing the work.

dvdbiggs
13
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dvdbiggs 09/08/10 - 03:15 pm
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Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the

Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the Director has to go.”

donnymack
1
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donnymack 09/08/10 - 03:32 pm
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Two years ago in Feb,I was

Two years ago in Feb,I was admitted for a fairly simple procedure it was supposed to be 3 days and out. Fortunately they found a more serious problem and my stay turned out to be 11 days. The care and service I recieved was 2nd to none and I speak with experiance on that matter.Up until recently,the last two weeks in my case,I am witnessing a decline in the service and attitude of some at the VA. Calls not being returned or personell not following the instructions of the PA. I would never have thought that I would have to go to a complaint board and am some what embarassed that I did. I got the result that I needed. I know that The Charlie Norwood VA center is better than that,but it just took a few idlers not wanting to do their jobs to create a situation that didn't need to be there.

dvdbiggs
13
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dvdbiggs 09/08/10 - 04:15 pm
0
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Donnymack maybe the treatment

Donnymack maybe the treatment that you received was a direct result of medical staff working "forced" 16 hour shifts. I have worked those forced 16 hour shifts at the VA and believe me you are not alert enough to provide the care that is needed. Why not be an advocate for more staffing !

dvdbiggs
13
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dvdbiggs 09/08/10 - 04:15 pm
0
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Donnymack maybe the treatment

Donnymack maybe the treatment that you received was a direct result of medical staff working "forced" 16 hour shifts. I have worked those forced 16 hour shifts at the VA and believe me you are not alert enough to provide the care that is needed. Why not be an advocate for more staffing !

disssman
6
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disssman 09/08/10 - 06:06 pm
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Thank god they have a union

Thank god they have a union to protect them. Without a union in this state they would have been gone long ago. Yhis is a right to work state , but the flip side is it is also a right to fire state. So if you have any complaints and aren't union, keep them to yourself or face the consequences.

freespeach
4
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freespeach 09/08/10 - 06:13 pm
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Oh please! This is another
Unpublished

Oh please! This is another union ploy to get more money and more benefits, even though the VA, and federal government in general, has the highest salaries and best benefits of anyone around. This is pure greed under the guise of "protecting America's heroes". Don't fall for it. Want to make a change? Start by getting rid of the unions. When you quit paying one nurse the salary of one and a half, then you'll be able to afford a lot more staff.

freespeach
4
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freespeach 09/08/10 - 06:37 pm
0
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Those forced 16 hour shifts
Unpublished

Those forced 16 hour shifts are the result of your coworkers calling in sick and you having to cover. People get sick. Nurses encounter this situation at every hospital. However, it's happening at the VA more so than other hospitals because the VA has more generous sick leave and some people abuse it. They call in sick, even when they're not, just as soon as they get sick leave. You know who they are. But you can't get rid of them becuase the union has negotiated "protections". You know which nurses you can count on and which nurses abuse the generous sick leave. Get the unions out of the way and fire nurses who abuse their sick leave, forcing other nurses to work a double shift.

Just My Opinion
6251
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Just My Opinion 09/09/10 - 03:45 am
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freespeach, I'm sure your

freespeach, I'm sure your fellow hospital administrators appreciate your input on this forum! I was waiting until someone from the offices took their turn to post something here, in hopes of keeping public sentiment from turning on the "nurses with high heels" and the "suits" running the show. Okay, you did your best. Now go and have some coffee and doughnuts before taking your 2 hour lunch.

Little Lamb
48880
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Little Lamb 09/09/10 - 06:39 am
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Here we have a foretaste of

Here we have a foretaste of Obamacare. Have you noticed how Obama tells us saps in his speeches how he is doing more for veterans than Bush ever did; but in his actions he is cutting staff and reducing the level of care actually delivered to the patients. That is Obamacare in a nutshell — tell a person he is getting more while actually giving him less.

fish2
0
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fish2 09/09/10 - 07:03 am
0
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freespeach--you said it right

freespeach--you said it right and most of the complants are coming from reasignments of nurses not providing direct patient care in years. Nurses making $70.000 plus a year and complains? The VA is making a change where staffing is needed and moving nurses where needed just like other hospitals in the CSRA---we don't see those nurses picket, they are gald they have a job. By the way I am not an hospital administrator or supervisor. Not all nurses at the VA agree with what other nurses are saying and are glad to see nurses being reasigned where needed.

BennyS
0
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BennyS 09/09/10 - 09:03 am
0
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Seems to me that with the

Seems to me that with the economy the way it is that they should be glad to even have a job. If things aren't going their way, quit and stand in line at the welware office like the rest of your family is doing.

michelleg
0
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michelleg 09/09/10 - 09:37 am
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dear community This is not

dear community
This is not about money or benefits, it is about nurse to patient ratios and safe patient care. I can and have worked overtime and extra time sometimes for 5-6 or even seven days in a row and there are still shifts in need of coverage, units working short, nurses doubling back to work another shift despite the extra being filled. We can and I do cover some shifts for comp-time, it is not just about money. All patients not just Veterans deserve good and safe care and at what cost. Take a picture of the parking lot of any hospital on day shift and then again on evenings, nights weekends and see who is at the beside caring for your loved ones, the cars left are the number of acute care bedside employees caring for patients not those carrying clipboards and wearing pantyhose. The reassigned nurses were filling important pt care jobs but when they are pulled who then is seeing the pts in the diabetic clinic, chf clinic, who is providing the wound care for not just one hospital but two hospitals uptown and downtown. I am sure that if you or your family member were in the hospital you would not want to wait for pain medication, basic morning and evening care, assistance with treatments, meals, discharge, admission, pt education while I care for my other five pts until i can get out of my two isolation rooms, down the hall, over the hill and dale, around the corner and to your family member all with a smile and unhurried manner.

michelleg
0
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michelleg 09/09/10 - 09:37 am
0
0
dear community This is not

dear community
This is not about money or benefits, it is about nurse to patient ratios and safe patient care. I can and have worked overtime and extra time sometimes for 5-6 or even seven days in a row and there are still shifts in need of coverage, units working short, nurses doubling back to work another shift despite the extra being filled. We can and I do cover some shifts for comp-time, it is not just about money. All patients not just Veterans deserve good and safe care and at what cost. Take a picture of the parking lot of any hospital on day shift and then again on evenings, nights weekends and see who is at the beside caring for your loved ones, the cars left are the number of acute care bedside employees caring for patients not those carrying clipboards and wearing pantyhose. The reassigned nurses were filling important pt care jobs but when they are pulled who then is seeing the pts in the diabetic clinic, chf clinic, who is providing the wound care for not just one hospital but two hospitals uptown and downtown. I am sure that if you or your family member were in the hospital you would not want to wait for pain medication, basic morning and evening care, assistance with treatments, meals, discharge, admission, pt education while I care for my other five pts until i can get out of my two isolation rooms, down the hall, over the hill and dale, around the corner and to your family member all with a smile and unhurried manner.

fish2
0
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fish2 09/09/10 - 10:10 am
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"It is like that all over the

"It is like that all over the hospital, where the union says 107 RN positions have been reassigned or relocated. Some of those nurses have not worked a floor in 20 to 30 years". Have not worked the floor basicly means no hands on patient care, that concept must cahange. Nurses should be taking direct care(hands on)patient care. An admission clerk can admit patients, it does not take an RN for that purpose or does other administrative positions RN's occupy. Put most nurses back to direct patient care and there won't be a shortage.

Nurse
0
Points
Nurse 09/09/10 - 10:40 am
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The informational picket was

The informational picket was organized to bring attention to the unsafe staffing levels on inpatient units at the VA. As a nurse at this VA I am on the "front-lines" and am being affected by the issues at hand. So, I can tell you that this issue is NOT about money. I think most people have figured that out, considering the excellent job the media has done to back us on this issue and on getting the word out. A lot of us spent our whole 30 minute lunch break picketing yesterday (instead of eating) to make the community/media aware of the situation. And in case you still don't get it (Benny) I just deleted 4 emails from supervisors of the inpatient units begging for nurses to voluntarily sign up for over-time to cover staffing shortages. And when someone doesn't volunteer (becuase we are tired, our backs and feet hurt) because we are already working our regular 80 hour per pay-period (yes thats right, we dont have 36 hour work weeks).... then SOMEONE GETS MANDATED! On my unit I have lost count of the number of nurses that have left and have not been replaced. We appreciate the supportive comments, but please have your facts straight and don't jump to conclusions. Nobody ever complained about their paycheck. Oh, and one more thing: Fish... most of the complaints are NOT coming from the $70,000/year nurses, it is coming from us...the nurses who are working 12+ hours depending on how short staffed the unit is for a particlular shift. The issue has been a growing, festering sore that has gotten worse and worse. Now the boil is bursting. Oh! And speaking of "boil," now we do not have a full-time wound care nurse - she has to work shifts to cover a SHORTAGE!

corgimom
38275
Points
corgimom 09/09/10 - 12:20 pm
0
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When I'm sick and need

When I'm sick and need medical care in a hospital, I want someone who is alert and rested. Making $70,000 is fine with me; how much value do you place on your life? Do you want someone making minimum wage nursing you?

When you are sick and need observation and care, do you want a nurse that supervises 40 patients or one that has 10?

corgimom
38275
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corgimom 09/09/10 - 12:22 pm
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"An admission clerk can admit

"An admission clerk can admit patients, it does not take an RN for that purpose or does other administrative positions RN's occupy."

An admissions clerk cannot start an IV that I need. An admissions clerk is not responsible for dispensing medications to me that could kill me. An admissions clerk will not be providing my care. An admissions clerk doesn't care diddly squat what my health history is, what meds I am taking, or how I feel.

What is wrong with people?

fish2
0
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fish2 09/09/10 - 01:27 pm
0
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corgimon--you have no clue.

corgimon--you have no clue. This has nothing to do with pay,nurses should be paided for what they do and well. They start IV's, give med's,wipe your butt,hold your hand when you hurt or whatever it takes to take care of you. (HANDS ON PATIENT CARE) Not performing administrative dutys other support people can do. When your sick you want skilled nursing personel taking care of you like you said. corgiman your right admissions clerks cant start IV's or the rest of what you said--the nurses perform these dutys---why should they be admitting when they have patients to take care of--think about it!

Nurse
0
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Nurse 09/09/10 - 02:26 pm
0
0
Fish2, perhaps the title

Fish2, perhaps the title "Admissions Nurse" is what is causing the confusion. An Admissions Nurse at the VA completes a physical assessment on the patient, documents any recent changes to the medical history ie allergies, medications, symptoms, or other medical concerns... he/she also assesses whether or not financial changes have occurred so that social work can get involved, she determines if an advance directive is filed/needed, determines if physical therapy is needed, if a chaplain is needed, if wound care is needed, if special equipment is needed...blah blah blah I could go on and on. But you get the general idea. This process is required on every patient that is admitted, so that the care we provide is thorough. And as you can see from the examples I have listed, it cannot be done by a clerk or any administrative person. The nursing admissions process is a screening tool that can only be done by a medical professional. Oh, add to the list after "wipe your butt" do chest compressions on you after you code, or do the heimlich because you didn't chew your food properly, or comfort your family without crying because you are dying, or come to your bedside with patience even though you push your call button every 10 minutes, or educate you on your new/old medications so you don't go home and accidentally kill yourself, or ... yes, wipe your butt while still leaving you with dignity and respect because you soiled yourself and are embarrassed. Respectfully, Proud VA Nurse.

fish2
0
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fish2 09/09/10 - 02:32 pm
0
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Now thats hands on patient

Now thats hands on patient care! Respectfully a proud VA Employee.

apex24
0
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apex24 09/09/10 - 04:04 pm
0
0
Another complaining union

Another complaining union member. Why don't you people quit and go find you a job at another hospital. I'll tell you why, you like that "guvment" money. And don't give me that crap about "your patients" because the nurses I've heard at the VA can't stand dealing with old men who don't have very good personal hygene. What a bunch of cry babies!!!!

ron_rlw
1
Points
ron_rlw 09/09/10 - 04:12 pm
0
0
apex - normally I don't side

apex - normally I don't side with union members. However, working 16 hour shifts and not being trained for the task you're told to do is a recipe for mistakes ... mistakes that could and should be avoided. All the nurse did was bring these conditions to the public's attention ... which should bring about better conditions of the patients.

Pallasathena74
0
Points
Pallasathena74 09/09/10 - 05:32 pm
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fish2-you totally agreed with

fish2-you totally agreed with what Nurse had to say about the admissions nurse. That is one of the positions deleted as being "fluff". The floor nurses do not have the time to do everything the admissions nurses did to help the veterans and the nurses do to make hospital admissions a smooth transition. The admissions nurses helped the floor nurses lighten their loads and improved the quality of nursing care provided to the veteran. ron_rlw gave a great assessment of this current mess at the VA. The approach to staffing,that the administration has taken, is a patient lawsuit looking for a place to happen. This VA has already gotten itself into trouble with the dirty equipment episode and there was no RN to oversee the employees and check for proper procedures in that department. The continuation of the current nurse staffing levels is an open invitation to patient injuries or worse. Regulatory agencies should be invited into this VA facility to inspect this facility and prove once and for all if the nurses are being whiney or are the being the patient advocates they claim to be. Who is going to make the phone call???

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