News & Events

Nurses looking out for patient safety

View letters to the editor here


Friday, April 22, 2011

Nurses looking out for patient safety

I’m a St. Vincent Hospital nurse who is on the negotiating team, and a member of the board of the bargaining unit. Let’s set the record straight. The nurses have been at the table for over 16 months, and have never left the table, unlike management. In the last eight weeks, they’ve spent about one hour at the table and nursing has been there for 32 hours, waiting for replies to our staffing grids. Negotiating is an exchange that involves more than one party. It’s very difficult to accomplish anything negotiating against yourself. The nurses have put a lot of time and energy into the proposals that have been presented.

Vanguard’s “fair and comprehensive” offer is a shell game. They are funding what little they are offering with the take-aways such as closing eight ICU beds, increasing patient ratios on 23 South, reducing psychiatric beds, taking away 16 support, flexing nurses down below budgeted hours and stripping our health care. From the start these negotiations have been about safe staffing. Vanguard has lied, threatened, bullied, stomped their feet, thrown up smokescreens and vilified the nurses. They’ve used this poor economy to play on everyone’s sympathy, but the truth is their economy is very good, thanks to their workers and patients.

It’s time to hold their feet to the fire and demand they keep their patients and nurses safe. It’s the right thing to do.




Nurses have been fighting for years at the unit level, the hospital level, the state level and now the national level for setting limits on how many patients a nurse can care for at one time. The results of more than 70 research studies, including those recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, consistently show that there is a direct correlation between nurse-patient ratios and patient outcome. The stunning truth is that when a nurse is given more than four patients to care for at one time, each patient’s risk of death multiplies seven percent times the number of patients assigned to the nurse. A patient who shares a nurse with six other patients has a 21 percent greater risk of dying. When nurses have fewer patients, there are fewer deaths and fewer complications such as infections, bedsores and pneumonia. How many patients do you want to share your nurse with?

I am grateful to the nurses of St. Vincent’s for once again taking the ultimate stand for patient safety and our profession.