Nurses, Health Professionals Speak Out During Nurses’ Week

May 9, 2018

HPAE and the Coalition for Patient Rights and Safe Staffing celebrated Nurses’ Week at a Town Hall event on Patient Safety and Safe Staffing in Healthcare. Safe staffing levels continue to be the most important issue for healthcare professionals. Special guests, Neptune Deputy Mayor Carol Rizzo, Neptune Councilman Robert Lane and Joe Libutti, Chief of Staff for Senator Vin Gopal were on hand to hear the experiences of healthcare professionals who are demanding safe staffing in our healthcare facilities to keep patients safe, decrease medical errors, save money & put a stop to nurses leaving the profession due to unsafe conditions for patients and workers themselves.

Kendra McCann, President of HPAE Local 5058 led the Town Hall and opened with: “As frontline caregivers we have been battling in the legislative arena for over 15 years striving for safe staffing levels in healthcare. As nurses we know the impact of inadequate staffing levels, the studies have been done saying patients’ and workers’ safety suffers due to short staffing.  Honor our Nurses and every healthcare professional by taking action to move legislation to require every healthcare facility abide by mandated safe staffing levels.”

The following are statements from Nurses and Health Professionals who shared their experiences:

Barbara Boyler, HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center: “I came into this career with a strong desire to help others, to care for them when under extreme health crises, but I find I am constantly playing beat the clock: there is an expectation that I will save as many lives as possible with as little help as possible and just suck it up. I am imploring you to support safe staffing legislation. No one’s health should be put at risk, whether the patient or the nurse, for the sake of profit.”

Sue Kaszuba, HPAE Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center: “No one understands what a Nurse goes through in a single shift. As a Nurse you need to be extremely flexible. You need to not get overwhelmed because that is when mistakes are made. You need to have a great staff that supports you in order to deal with People not Product. When you are missing a Secretary, Nursing assistant, or another RN it is so difficult to function properly, and most of all, it is so difficult to function safely. Despite these staffing hardships, as a Nurse ultimately it is still your Responsibility to keep the patient safe.”

Mary Barbes, NJ Nurses Union at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus: “For years we have attempted to negotiate staffing provisions in our contract with the Medical Center without any success. As a result the Medical Center has absolute control over all staffing decisions at the Medical Center and the nurses who carry out all nursing duties and are most familiar with staffing needs have no input into staffing. Nurses are tired of having to work under conditions they deem unsafe. We are demanding our voices be heard. If administration refuses to listen, I think it is time that the Legislature listens to nurses and move the safe staffing legislation to protect patient safety.”

Pam Reinhardt, HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center: “When I started at Jersey shore we were a small independent hospital, and now we are part of a large healthcare corporation. Since then our census and volume has increased, yet there are days when it seems we may not be prepared to handle the number of infants and the very high needs of our patients in NICU. As healthcare corporations continue to grow staffing concerns must be addressed but administrators must listen to the concerns raised by their workers to find a solution that will keep all of us safe.”

Vicky Cardenas, HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center: “My main concern has always been to take safe, competent care of my patients. When Fresenius came in to take over the dialysis unit, I felt like a new nurse. Our training was rushed. We had new machines, new concentrates, new computer systems, new policies and procedures—and we were expected to learn the machines as we were taking care of the patients who were hooked up to them.

I welcome change, as long as I’m prepared for it. With the new computer system, our union had to say, “We can’t take care of 9 patients and learn the new system.” I want all my patients to feel like they’re being treated like family; and I want families to feel like their loved ones are safe when they’re left in my hands.”

Debi Rupp, HPAE Local 5058 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center: “We as nurses should be setting the standards for the nurse to patient staffing levels, not the hospital administrator. As Nurses we are the ones on the front line providing quality care to our patient population. We know it takes time to provide safe quality care to each individual who comes through the door. Many times, patients roll through the doors and it is not just one but 2 or more nurses trying to stabilize a critical patient. That is not only happening in intensive care units, it happens on med surgical floors as well. If there are 2 nurses in one patient’s room someone on the floor is at risk. We cannot stretch the nursing staff to its limits. The risk is far too great when you are talking about lives.”

View photos from the event below: