It was becoming the norm — shortages of both RNs and ancillary staff during the night shift on the labor and delivery floor in Northwell’s Southside Hospital in Bayshore. NYSNA nurses Kate Dietz and Brooke Karroll were determined to bring safe staffing to the unit.
“We decided if we could get all of the nurses in the same room with senior manaement, we would have better results,” said Ms. Karroll. Her co-worker, LBU Vice President Carolyn Grupe, RN, joined the effort. All agreed that NYSNA staff be included in the process to help coordinate and ensure accountability. Ms. Grupe also brought to the effort the skills she had learned at NYSNA’s Steward Training.
First, the nurses worked together to draw up a complete and clear assessment of unit conditions. In mid-October, 11 night shift nurses and their NYSNA Rep met with a team of hospital managers: the Director of Maternal Child, CNO, HR Director, and several assistant managers. The nurses outlined each problem area, cited specific examples of how understaffing was adversely impacting patient care, and offered potential solutions. When finished, management requested time to review and promised a follow up meeting.
The nurses’ message was heard because on November 22, when the same group reconvened, management announced that it was in agreement with the NYSNA nurses and would take concrete steps to address conditions. A new Aide position would be posted and L&D night shift ancillary staff would no longer be floated. The CNO also agreed to accelerate the addition of seven previously announced new RN positions for L&D, and add a transition nurse. In addition, in January, a nurse educator for the Maternal Child Clinical division will be added.
The nurses attributed the positive results to NYSNA’s help and guidance, to unity within their own ranks and to the professionalism with which they approached management on the issues. “In the end, management saw that we were all together in our desire to make our department a safe place for patients and staff,” said Ms. Dietz.
Of the process, Ms. Grupe said, “I was so impressed with the leadership shown by my colleagues Kate Dietz and Brooke Karroll. They fostered such a professional, collaborative effort that helped the department work through its anger, do its homework, articulate concise arguments and identify thoughtful solutions.”
“By being united, we bridged the communication gap that we had been long experiencing. Getting everyone in the same room was key,” said Ms. Dietz.
Unity of focus
“In the end, everyone wants what’s best for patients,” said Ms. Karroll. “There’s a respectful way to come together to get results. When you have issues, speak up, but don’t just complain — organize and offer solutions to the problems you see. And if you don’t get the results you want the first time around, persevere.”
“Through NYSNA, we had the framework and support to come forward and achieve these gains,” said Ms. Grupe.