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Nurses to hold vigil on ‘team nursing’

Posted: April 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 19, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Registered nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have scheduled a candlelight vigil for next week to draw attention to their concerns about “team nursing,” one of the hospital’s staffing strategies, a nurse representative said Monday.

“We’re going to have a candlelight vigil for patient safety and, more specifically, against ‘team nursing,’” Gerry Daley said. Daley is a labor representative for the nurses’ union, the California Nurses Association.

Hospital spokeswoman Andie Bogdan said Newhall Memorial officials expect more media-savvy tactics from the California Nurses Association in coming months.

“The closer Henry Mayo leadership gets to finalizing plans to respond to employee nurse recommendations, the more media outreach we expect to see from the California Nurses Association,” Bogdan said.

“It’s an effective tactic for the union given that they have a contract up for renewal later this year,” she said. “Hospital administration views ‘safety’ as essential to patient care and agrees that it should be upheld as a core value at our hospital.”

Under team nursing, a registered nurse is teamed with a licensed vocational nurse. Together, the team handles more patients than an RN would handle by themselves.

The nurses, represented by eight elected registered nurses, contend that team nursing compromises patient safety.

Hospital officials maintain that team nursing meets the ratio of patients to licensed nurses mandated by the state.

The nurses’ vigil is scheduled to take place near the hospital on April 28.

“We’ve been inviting them to come and talk with us, but they’ve been ducking us, basically,” Daley said about hospital administrators.

“We feel the need to go a little more public with this,” he said. “So we’re inviting members of the community to come out and, basically, we’re inviting anybody with a stake in Henry Mayo.”

Last month, at least 154 registered nurses signed a petition that recommended hospital administrators “shut down the ‘team nursing’ program, and restore .... Primary care nursing practiced at all other reputable hospitals in Southern California.”

California is the only state in the country that mandates a ratio of patients to licensed nurses. The ratio varies according to the level of care required.

For example, no more than two patients can be assigned to a registered nurse working in a hospital’s intensive care unit.

By comparison, in less critical units, a registered nurse can handle as many as six pa

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