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Nurses at 2 ProMedica Hospitals Seek Federal Help to Protect Patients

Michigan Nurses Association Press Release, 1/8/13

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Concerns about staffing cited at Bixby, Herrick in Lenawee County

The registered nurses at ProMedica’s Bixby and Herrick hospitals in Lenawee County have filed requests with the federal government to intervene after months of ProMedica failing to work with the nurses to improve patient safety and retaliating when they raise concerns.

“It’s almost impossible for nurses to keep our patients safe under the conditions that ProMedica has us working in,” said Sheila Warner, a registered nurse who works at both hospitals. “It’s a huge problem when management forces nurses to juggle 6 or 7 patients at a time, or when we have vulnerable patients lined up in the ER hallway and not enough monitors to go around. We’ve offered solutions for months and asked ProMedica to help us keep our patients safe, but we’ve gotten nothing but inaction and retaliation in return.”

Through the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents them, the nurses at ProMedica’s Bixby Hospital in Adrian and Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh have asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to intervene. The board will now investigate the unfair labor practice charges over Toledo-based ProMedica’s failure to bargain in good faith and use of retaliation, coercion and intimidation of nurses.

Most recently, a nurse reported being physically and verbally assaulted by her direct supervisor. The assault has been reported to the Adrian Police Department.

Throughout nearly 20 sessions of contract negotiations since April, ProMedica has refused to accept any of the multiple staffing solutions that nurses have suggested. Even after their contract expired in June, nurses continued for months to try to work with ProMedica on solutions. The nurses overwhelmingly rejected what ProMedica deemed a final contract offer last month.

Meanwhile, hundreds of nursing shifts have gone unfilled. Nurses are being forced to work past the point of exhaustion, pick up additional shifts and work short-staffed.

“Nurses have a right, and in fact an obligation, to speak up when a hospital fails to provide safe conditions for their patients,” said John Karebian, executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association. “We will not tolerate retaliation against nurses who advocate for their patients. It’s unfortunate that we had to ask the federal government to step in, but apparently that’s what it will take for ProMedica to address these problems.”

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