Nursing strike

On Sunday, 1,300 nurses at Fairview Riverside and Fairview Southdale starting striking and nurses from Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park could be joining them. Tensions were high as area hospitals were on the brink of striking, yet were able to work out last minute contracts. Out-of-state replacement nurses, who have degrees, the same training, and an outrageous salary of $5,000 a week to insure patient care, can hardly be considered to have the same commitment to the hospital or the community they currently serve. These nurses who are still holding out for a better deal should make a realistic assessment of their situation. The contracts offered are most likely the best they will receive and the important role they play in communities has been highlighted. Continuing to strike serves no purpose.

It may seems contradictory that the nurses are striking for the benefit of those in their care, yet it is patients who would be hurt in the short term. The nurses poised the strike because they felt their wages and benefits needed to be increased and more importantly, that staffing levels, case loads and scheduling procedures needed to be reviewed and fixed. This would mean a larger cost to the hospitals and more nurses taking care of fewer patients. This would obviously create better patient care or allow more time for gossip and coffee breaks for nurses making more than $50,000 a year.

Nurses claim they are overworked and it is compromising patient care, yet only 13 percent of nurses in the metro area work full time. This is partially creating the nursing shortage and taxing those already working. One solution to this would be for nurses to work an extra ten hours a week. Hospitals would have more nurses and the ability to reduce each nurse’s overall caseload.

Hospitals need to focus on controlling medical costs and improving patient care. This is something hospital administrators and nurses should be working on together. The nurses in area hospitals where new contracts have been signed need to be commended for their concern for their patients. Nurses at the two Fairview hospitals who rejected the contract even though the union urged them to accept must be condemned. Patient care does not appear to be their biggest concern

The need for quality healthcare should be a high priority for the state. If working more is out of the question, than we need more nurses. The University has long been the major training ground for nurses in this state. The University asked for an additional $7.1 million from the state to educate more health professionals. With Gov. Jesse Ventura denying this funding, he has greatly compounded the problem of a nurse shortage. The state legislature and our governor need to realize that funding the University has a greater impact than can be seen. The hospitals, nurses, and government all need to sacrifice a bit for the bigger picture. Without some leeway on all sides, it is the patients who continue to suffer.