I have been a NICU Nanny for five years at Sacred Heart. This is a completely new experience as I was a professor at a local university for decades. There are SO many babies with tremendous need, and I watch interactions with nurses closely with respect and much admiration. There is never any judgement towards the parents, when sometimes it would be very hard NOT to judge. I see expert care along with an outpouring of love over these tiny newborns and their parents. I feel privileged to witness such a caring atmosphere in my retirement years. My previous experience with a hospital is where I had my babies and two hip replacements and that’s about it!
So, I was disturbed when overhearing two very respected nurses commenting on union negotiations, (15 meetings so far over more than a year), losing accumulated vacation leave, fear of taking a sick day, lack of vacation leave, losing retirement packages, and incremental raises which do not even hold up to the cost of living increases. I heard of nurses putting off their own personal medical issues like hip replacements because they could not afford to do this, accruing medical leave so they can take care of an aging parent or family member through an illness, then facing a risk of losing it. This means our revered nurses are sometimes doing their important work in pain, scared to take vacation leave for fear of losing benefits, and worn out from lack of downtime or vacation. These are women that hesitate to take a 20 minute break because they are concerned for their babies. This is a CRAZY way to treat these important members of our society. And don’t worry, they were talking to each other and I asked some questions. They were NOT complaining to me!
In 2019, the number one reason for taking a vacation is reducing stress or relaxing. When workers are under stress, productivity drops, more illness occurs, and the climate simply becomes toxic. Everyone SHOULD know that time off is essential for strong bonds, a productive workforce and a fulfilled life. But each year, more than half of Americans leave vacation time on the table, accumulating to 768 million days in 2018. Why? So many workers are afraid of losing their jobs just because they want some time with their families or a break from a stressful job. All KINDS of research points out the benefits of time off but our top officials seem to want to ignore this.
Please take a good hard look at what your nurses are doing. Listen to them and start to run a kinder and more humane benefits program. Your time listening and meeting their needs will pay you back tenfold and also turn your hospital into a stellar example all large workforces should follow. SOMEONE very respected needs to stop this dangerous cycle of work/stress mentality. Perhaps you can?
Thanks for listening. Again, I am just an observer, but feel I’ve stepped into a world where not everyone knows the pressure and responsibility nurses face on a daily basis. Please do the right thing.