Press Release

Orlando RNs to Shed Light on how Patient Care and Community is Hurt by Recent Cuts

Press conference and rally Monday 7:30 am-9:30 am

Registered nurses and healthcare workers from throughout Orlando Health’s (OH) eight hospitals will hold a press conference and rally Monday morning to speak about the effects cuts are having on their ability to provide safe patient care, the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC)-Florida announced today. The effects, described in more detail below, range from replacing a “sitter” (assigned to ensure a high-risk patient’s safety) with a technician on a different floor monitoring up to 12 cameras on a screen, to blood pressure cuffs not working.

Many of the RNs attending will be coming directly from working the first night shift impacted by the controversial differential pay cut. In early August, OH announced it would cut the night and weekend differential by more than 50 percent, affecting more than 15,000 employees and estimated to cause a loss of 90 jobs and a resulting $12 million loss to the local community. (Source: Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy calculation using IMPLAN methodology.) This comes at a time when the company is undergoing a costly expansion, and has reported a $271 million profit over the last four years.

The RNs continue to press hospital officials to rescind the cuts without threat of layoffs, maintain and improve nurse-to-patient safe staffing ratios, and agree to a fair process for employees to organize a union without interference from hospital management. Currently, management is adding insult to injury by its tactics of fear and intimidation against employees who wish to organize.

What: Orlando Nurses Press Conference and Rally for Safe Care

When: Monday, Oct. 7, 7:30 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

Where: Lake Eola—195 North Rosalind @ Washington, Orlando

(Where the farmers market is located)

“These cuts have initiated a cycle of challenges for both nurses as well as our community,” said Sarah Collins, an RN at Winnie Palmer Hospital who works in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “We have lost, and will continue to lose, excellent clinical nurses with years of loyalty and, subsequently, unparalleled experience. Those of us who remain will face increased challenges to continue to deliver safe care to our patients with decreased staffing and with the lack of guidance from our most experienced colleagues.”

“Nurses have always prided themselves on providing safe quality care for our patients,” said Sarah Lasher, an RN who works with critically ill infants at the Winnie Palmer Hospital. OH is standing fast on its decision to cut in our nightshift differential. The cold, hard truth is that this is affecting patient care. Our ability to be patient advocates is being seriously tested and is why we have made the decision to join together and organize with NNOC, a professional nurses organization, that more than 5,000 RNs from hospitals throughout Florida have already accomplished.”

Orlando RNs Speak about the Effects of the Cuts on Patient Care.

Sarah Lasher, RN, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Woman and Babies, neonatal intensive care unit

In a unit of extremely fragile babies who rely on highly specialized respiratory equipment to maintain life, we have a shortage.

We are a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit that takes care of the sickest babies in the hospital. We had a 1:1 or 1:2 nurse-to-patient ratio that is now being pushed to 1:3 for the first time in seven years. Seven years ago, there were too many bad outcomes when we had responsibility for three extremely ill patients.  How can you adequately care for 24-week old one pound infants, who have multiple lines going into and out of their tiny bodies, and are often on high-frequency breathing machines?

Alina Capeles, RN, Orlando Regional Medical Center, emergency department

The number of patients each nurse is assigned has increased. We have to pool all of our resources to get through the day, but I’m worried that the day will come when there just won’t be enough RNs to take care of a true emergency.”

“Our nurse-to-patient staffing has gone from 1:3 to 1:4 at a time when more and more people are coming to the ER for care. Several of our most experienced senior RNs who have left because of the reductions are being replaced by new graduate nurses. There is not the time to properly train or orient these nurses.

We now don’t have a nurse exclusively assigned to the rapid response team who take care of patients when they become critical. There have been layoffs and reductions of the number of radiology and CT scan technicians, which creates delays in care when they get backed up -- as they often do. We also have to assign a nurse to take care of up to 10 additional patients who end up in the hallways on a gurney when there are no rooms available.

Katrina Cornelius, RN, Doctor P. Phillips Hospital, intensive care unit

“The layoffs caused the closure of a general medical surgical unit and our blood pressure cuffs don’t work.”

“Our critical care unit has been downgraded from a 1:2 to 1:3 ratio, which sometimes means we don’t get in to see our patients for two hours into a shift. Our charge nurse who oversees all the workings of the unit now, in addition to carrying the rapid response beeper, must also take a patient assignment. We lost our tech that transferred patients out to other units or to tests, which we now have to do ourselves, leaving our patients in the care of an already burdened nurse.

NNOC-Florida represents RNs at:

Blake Medical Center, Bradenton; Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota; Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte; Florida Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale; Largo Medical Center, Largo; Central Florida Regional Medical Center, Sanford; Medical Center of Trinity, Trinity; Northside Hospital, St. Petersburg; Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville;  Osceola Regional Medical Center, Kissimmee; Palmetto General Hospital, Hialeah; St. Petersburg General Hospital, and the Veteran Affairs Hospitals in Lake City,  Miami and Tampa.