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Independent Journalist Sarah DiGregorio recently offered good advice in a March 14 perspective opinion article in the Washington Post to reporters following current challenges in hospital staffing. She urged a deeper examination of the root causes for reported instability in the nursing workforce and the resulting recent cases of notably high salaries now offered for those willing to take on temporary work away from their homes.
In the article, DiGregorio shared stories from her reporting on nursing to explain why the recent spike in salaries for travel nurses reflects deeper concerns.
The pandemic has added to the stresses of nursing, leading to departures from permanent jobs and creating a situation where people willing to take on temporary employment may get $3,500 a week “and sometimes even more,” DiGregorio noted.
“Yet the problematic explosion of traveling nursing is only a symptom of a longer-running, self-inflicted disaster,” DiGregorio wrote. “Over the long-term, hospitals have failed to hire and support enough nurses to weather crises.”
DiGregorio, who is working on a book on the history of nursing, writes about how hospital executives furloughed or laid off nurses early on in the pandemic when elective procedures were suspended, and then they later had to scramble to raise staff levels.
In California, an initiative known as Proposition 8 asks voters to limit the revenue that kidney dialysis clinics can earn. The proposition pits health care unions against the large companies that run dialysis centers.
In Massachusetts, a ballot question asks voters to consider a proposal to limit how many patients a hospital can assign to each registered nurse at hospitals and other health care facilities. Continue reading
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A new report from the The United Hospital Fund and AARP Public Policy Institute finds that spouses who act as the primary family caregiver routinely perform complex medical and nursing tasks without adequate in-home support from health care professionals, especially when compared with non-spousal family caregivers.
Eighty-four percent of spousal care recipients received no professional health care on site, compared to 65 percent of non-spousal care recipients. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of spouses who are caregivers perform many of the tasks that health care professionals do – such as medication management, wound care, using meters and monitors, compared to 42 percent of nonspousal caregivers.
Compounding the challenge, spouses were also less likely to receive help from family or friends or home care aides: 58 percent of the spouses reported no additional help from others, compared to 20 percent of nonspouses. Continue reading
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Is your local hospital a NICHE facility?
Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders is a nurse-driven program aiming to improve quality of in-patient care for older adults through its focus on geriatric issues, staff competence, and hospital-wide protocols for geriatric care.
The NICHE program provides facilities with the latest training, tools, and resources, including evidence-based protocols, to improve clinical outcomes, enhance nursing competencies, boost patient satisfaction, and better support their communities.
According to the organization, hospitals that obtain NICHE designation demonstrate the leadership, organizational commitment and cultural competency to achieve patient-centered care.
The program began at the NYU College of Nursing in the early 1980s and grew to some 450 participating hospitals and acute care facilities in the United States and Canada. Institutions develop and implement their own changes in nurse-driven geriatric care using NICHE-provided tools, resources, project management approaches and best practice solutions, from medication safety to family communication, to catheter removal.
Two issues on a collision course make initiatives like NICHE valuable. Continue reading
St. Petersburg Times reporter Curtis Krueger’s story about a successful whistleblower suit against a Florida hospital provides a powerful storyline about how disciplined health care workers continue to get hired. Here, he skips the government agencies and state databases and looks at communication between the hospitals themselves.
After all, don’t hospitals consult references and do background checks when hiring new doctors and nurses? In the corporate world of major hospitals, the answer is apparently “yes, but it doesn’t seem to do any good.”
… in general, (Beth Hardy, a spokeswoman for Morton Plant Mease Hospitals) said, if a hospital calls seeking information about a former employee, the company will simply confirm the worker’s dates of employment and last position held. She said that is “a standard and accepted policy across a lot of large organizations.”
The whistleblower suit itself, which resulted in a $450,000 award, involved a nursing supervisor who was fired soon after she criticized nurse Bernard M. Moran for falsifying records, a practice which got him fired at a previous job. Moran now works at another area hospital, one which says it checks the disciplinary records of all new hires.
The story only came to light because of the lawsuit. To understand just how many blind eyes were turned toward Moran’s behavior during this series of events, just take a look at Krueger’s story.
(Hat tip to Health News Florida)