News & Events

Letter from Frontline Nurse to Vanguard CEO Makes Case for St. Vincent Nurses’ Call for Safe Staffing Now!

Dear Mr. Mullany

I am writing this letter in response to the email you sent on March 8 to all the Saint Vincent employees. My name is Aimée Albani and I am a staff nurse working at this hospital. I have to let you know how extremely disappointed I am that Vanguard Corp./Management would write such an email in an attempt to make myself and my colleagues feel guilty about trying to protect their licenses and their patients.

The email was filled with many untruths that seemed to paint the nurses in a bad light in an attempt to create animosity amongst hospital employees. You also seem to be trying to take advantage of the unfortunate economic times to bolster your argument that you cannot afford to provide safe staffing for patients and their families.

This is clearly misleading at best, due to the fact that Vanguard Corp. has had a profit of $20M in the last two years at this institution alone. It seems to me that Vanguard would want to reinvest some of this profit as a responsible corporate citizen into its employees and patients.

Most of Vanguard’s proposals at negotiations have been takeaways in spite of this enormous profit. Nurses are being asked to accept even more flex downs per month which would mean that they would not be able to count on a stable paycheck to pay their bills. Most of the positions offered by the hospital to the nursing staff are flex positions. The flex position is not used at the city’s other large hospitals.

Vanguard is providing no education days for nurses. Vanguard Corporation is offering its nurses the worst health care benefit package in the city. Part time nurses working 24 – 32 hour, non-flex positions are forced to pay 60% of their health care premiums and then there are major cuts as well to those benefits.

It is a fact that Saint Vincent Hospital has the worst staffing ratio in the city. Any bedside nurse, PCA, transporter, pharmacist, lab tech., case manager, PA, etc., are working with the bare minimum amount of staff. There is a domino effect taking place at the hospital because of this unsafe staffing. Most departments have had to deal with patient injuries, deaths, and “near misses” because of it. These are real people we are dealing with, and not a product.

Because pharmacy can’t get us medications in time to satisfy the half -hour rule, the patient is unhappy and the nurses are frustrated. When transporters aren’t available to discharge patients in a timely manner and patients and their families have to wait a half-hour or longer to be discharged, this creates unhappy patients. I went to a nursing conference this week and learned that with the new health care reforms, insurance companies might not reimburse hospitals if medications are not provided within the half-hour rule. When we are told that everything nurses do is a priority and we are being forced to prioritize due to unsafe staffing, the result is serious harm or death of a patient or loss of a license.

I don’t see the D.P.H. on my floor monitoring patient safety on a routine basis. They are usually only here to investigate an incident that has already occurred. I have been a nurse for 32 years, and every year, especially in the last 10 years, it has become increasingly clear to me, that the buck stops with the bedside nurse, to insure their patients safety and the nurse stands alone to protect their license.

It wasn’t always this way! Therefore, I am not ashamed to tell the public the truth if that is the only way to insure my patient’s safety as well as mine. It is increasingly clear that Vanguard does not want the truth to be heard. This should make any concerned citizen or employee take notice.

In an attempt to be able to make an informed decision about our contract, I have attended many MNA update meetings as well as negotiation meetings so I could see for myself how things were progressing. The last three meetings, the hospital has done little to nothing to help negotiations to move forward. It is now well over one year that we have been without a contract.

At one point during these negotiations, we were asked not to proceed with the large proposals until the hospital could fill key positions of staff members that had stepped down. We did this in good faith, and now Mr. Mullany, you are insinuating that the MNA is not negotiating in good faith. This disappoints me! In closing, I want to say that the Hospital has a caring, pleasant hard working staff in all departments, and because of this, we are all well aware of the staffing emergency because we strive to do the best job we can for our patients.

It is unpleasant and takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you believe in, but we are forced to do what needs to be done for all the right reasons. I truly believe that with a “four to one” ratio, the hospital would not have to worry about advertising. We would be doing the advertising for you, just by being able to do our job in a safe, and timely and caring manner. I have never met you, but I do believe that if both sides came to the negotiation table with patient safety as the top priority, this could be accomplished.

Sincerely, from a caring staff Nurse

Aimée Albani R.N.

View pdf version of this letter here