Please see the letter below from EHMC regarding our refusal to agree to mandatory shift changes for our members.
Alice Barden, RN
President, HPAE Local 5004
110 Kinderkamack Road
Emerson, NJ 07630
The timing of your note last night is extremely disappointing, considering yesterday was the onemonth anniversary of the diagnosis of Englewood’s first COVID-19 inpatient. Thankfully, due to the extraordinary efforts of our nurses and many other team members, hundreds of patients since then have been discharged. As I write this, we have over 200 COVID-19 inpatients in our care.
Considering this patient volume, this is a clearly an “all-hands-on-deck” situation to care for our patients. It is disheartening to me that you would send me a text message last night saying that the situation before all of us is “not only about the patient.” During this time of crisis, our team members – including the nursing team – have proven that it is all about the patient. It is imperative that we support our colleagues in the ED and at the bedside. We are providing additional nursing resources from areas that have experienced a significant decrease in volume due to the shift from elective and outpatient services. The need now is in our inpatient units, including those inpatient units recently added to handle the COVID-19 patient surge.
Your message last night implies that Englewood has done nothing in the three weeks since we first discussed the need to redeploy staff from the procedural areas. You know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Throughout this time, our leaders have worked on a plan to redeploy staff from procedural areas across weekends and nights, in order to provide support for their fellow team members and help provide the care needed for our patients during this pandemic.
Our leaders have also – contrary to your assertion – repeatedly sought volunteers for various redeployment assignments during this time and our staff nurses have been stepping up in those areas. We will again reach out to our nurses to help in our effort to care for patients. However, for the safety of our patients and our team members, there comes a point that we can no longer rely solely on volunteers stepping up as we will be unable to meet the patient care needs during this pandemic.
I have been in contact with either Michele or you every day since we first discussed the need to redeploy staff, often several times per day. As soon as a plan was finalized last week, I shared it with you. As part of that plan, I informed Michele of the need to implement the plan by today, April 7th. The date for the new schedule was also clearly stated in the memorandum of agreement I sent to you, Michele and Corrado last Friday.
When I spoke with Michele yesterday, she told me that she was working on a response to the
memorandum of agreement I sent on Friday. At most, I expected a counterproposal. What I
received from you was unexpected and unacceptable.
The burden that we are asking ALL of our team members to share is unprecedented. Our plan
considers the enormous uncertainty over these coming weeks and we intend to provide our nursing team clear guidance on what, where and how to support patient care in the coming weeks. We have worked around the clock to identify and onboard temporary clinical staff in order to deal with the tremendous surge in COVID-19 patients. We have added 25 ICU beds and 66 medical-surgical beds in order to meet the demand to care for the members of our community. Over 250 team members have been redeployed throughout the hospital in order to provide much needed assistance including an HR Business Partner, who is a registered nurse and now working in clinical areas to provide patient support during this unprecedented time.
Gov. Murphy, in his Executive Order No. 112, has taken the extraordinary step of suspending
statutory provisions “designed to safeguard the health and safety of the public” that can “in time of crisis such as this, thwart or delay our efforts to respond rapidly to emerging needs by
establishing conditions and barriers that deprive the healthcare system of the agility to best utilize available resources in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, and avoid overwhelming the capacity of the system.”
We have asked you to follow Gov. Murphy’s guidance and work with us to temporarily remove
such barricades here as we temporarily redeploy staff to the shifts and areas in the hospital that need them the most. Although the crisis remains in constant flux, we are confident that the Englewood Health team will continue to adapt to whatever is needed to get through the COVID-19 crisis and together, emerge even stronger.
John C. O’Dea, Esq.
Director, Employee and Labor Relations
HPAE Local 5004 Executive Board