As we move into summer months, I am proud as I think about what we have done together this spring. For me, celebrating Nurses Week, while engaging in meaningful actions all across the Commonwealth, was inspiring, and gave more urgency to addressing the changes we need as nurses. I hope as you read this newsletter you find these actions as inspirational as I did. Together, we will continue to work hard to obtain the regulations and legislation we need to do our jobs safely and provide the quality care our patients need and always deserve.
– Denelle Korin RN, Nurse Member Coordinator, Nurse Alliance of SEIU PA
Nurses Week starts strong with events held across the state!
May 6 kicked off Nurses week with actions happening all over the state. On May 7th two events were held, the first being that in Pittsburgh nurses and hospital workers joined together in the Pittsburgh Hospital Workers March to demand immediate action to protect and support the frontline by addressing short staffing, low wages, and unsafe working conditions and respecting workers’ right to form a union.
The second event held during Nurses Week was the Community Health Fair & Family Fun Day in Wilkes-Barre. Melissa Partington, RN said “we chose to organize an event, a Community Health Fair at Kirby Park. This event gave the community a chance to come out for fun and food for the kids including face painting and sand art. Over a dozen local agencies came to educate everyone on services available here in our community that were very informative. We even had a few politicians come to show their support for the nurses and the safe staffing bill we desperately need passed. Nurses from the hospital units made baskets that were raffled off for participating with the local agencies and health screening tables. Despite the rainy weather, it was a successful event that might become an annual event!”
Mt. Nittany Workers held a Job Fair and Community event on May 13th inviting community members to celebrate healthcare workers in the region. The event also provided a space to apply for open positions at the hospital with staff on site to answer questions. The Officers of the union proudly provided Human Resources with applications to facilitate filling open positions within the Medical Center. “I was proud to be able to talk with our community and to have conversations with potential applicants who are looking to work in healthcare.” -Denelle Korin, RN
National Nurses March
PA Nurses attended the National Nurses March, in Washington, DC along with thousands of nurses from across the country. At one of the largest actions organized by nurses to date, Nurses collectively advocated for 3 major changes: Safe Staffing Ratios, Protection from workplace violence and fair wages. Michelle Boyle an RN of 28 years said “I was invigorated to see and connect with nurses from all over the United States who are passionate about safe patient care in nursing. The people who manufactured this staffing crisis are not the ones who can or will fix it, nurses can. By seeing thousands of us out on the streets, I had hope for the first time in a long time. I know this is something that will take all of us, collectively, to fix.”
Ending Nurses Week with a Memorial to those Lost to Unsafe Staffing March
On May 14th we ended nurses week by advocating for the Patient Safety Act to be passed in Warren, PA. Nurses held a Memorial for those Lost to Unsafe Staffing & Kathy Rapp’s Inaction beginning at Crescent Park nurses and community members marched to Rep. Kathy Rapp’s District Office carrying a coffin filled with grievances from nurses urging Kathy Rapps’s inaction to stop.
Nurses further urged Kathy Rapp to Pass the Patient Safety Act as they staged a “die-in” directly in front of her office. Nurses at the die-in honoring those who, as a direct result of unsafe staffing, have died and could have easily been prevented by passing the Patient Safety Act.
Katrina Rectenwald, RN, a speaker at the event said “We have lost many great nurses for years due to the working conditions. Staffing was not good before the pandemic, what the pandemic did was expose the challenges we were already facing. Having evidence-based safe patient ratios would help change our working conditions. Teachers have set numbers of children they can have, daycare’s have a set number of children they can care for. Why wouldn’t there be set numbers for nurses caring for sick patients with life-threatening illnesses?”
To Wrap up May, Hundreds Rally for Safe Staffing, Accountability for Nursing Home Funding
On Wednesday, May 25th, as legislators were in session planning the state budget, over 200 nursing home workers sang and chanted in the halls of the capitol, rallied on the steps, and marched through Harrisburg planting hundreds of signs along Front Street, calling on the legislature to pass safe staffing and sustainable, accountable nursing home funding.
“We can only be in the room with someone for maybe five minutes before we have to run to the next person,” said Simone Whyte, an LPN from Harrisburg. “They need a listening ear, and we can’t even provide that. And the fewer staff a nursing home has, the more at risk residents are for falls, bedsores, and other complications. This has to change.”
Because of union power, for the first time ever, workers, Gov. Wolf’s administration, and the nursing home lobby all agree reform is needed, including: Safe Staffing Ratios for CNAs & LPNs; Full Funding: $300 million in permanent, recurring investment into care; Real Accountability for our tax dollars: 70 cents of every dollar that nursing homes spend must be spent on resident care. These changes are needed to rebuild the workforce and bring caregivers back to the bedside.
MEMO: Your assignment is unsafe!!!
UPMC has long been one of the worst offenders of putting profits over patients, it’s a shameful practice that we continue to fight all over the state. Recently, UPMC Altoona’s administration took this practice to a new low, a low that took to social media by storm. A Memo sent to staff, by a member of management, detailed clearly that the staffing ratios nurses were being assigned are unsafe. Despite this knowledge, nurses would be given these assignments anyway.
In response, nurses in Altoona on Tuesday held a press conference calling on legislators to do whatever it takes to move the Patient Safety Act forward and put nurses in a position to provide quality care to their patients.
In response to increasingly brazen unsafe staffing and instances of legal prosecution of nurses for the results, Nurse Alliance leadership knew we needed a centralized way for our union members to report and document an unsafe patient care assignment. The Assignment Despite Objection form was revamped and is readily available to fill out!
Follow this link: SeiuHcpa.Org/ADO.
The form will serve as proof that you stated that your assignment was unsafe and that you notified management of your objection to the assignment you were given. Standing up and stating that your assignment is unsafe is paramount to advocate for your patients, here and now. Filling out this form will also help you if a sentinel event were to happen that was a result of having an unsafe assignment.
Rethink Burnout… It’s Moral Injury! Recognize, Reconstruct and Repair.
Wednesday, June 29th from 4PM-6PM
2 Free CEU Credits! As nurses, we have spent 2 years traversing tremendous uncertainty, working in harsh and tragic patient care environments, while trying our best to heal and advocate for our patients. The odds have not been far from stacked in our favor. We face a range of emotions and feelings, because our moral compass has been challenged more than ever. Plus, record numbers of nurses are leaving the bedside.
This session focuses on “burnout” in a new way. We’ll explore the concept of Moral Injury, which shifts focus from individuals to broken institutional healthcare systems. This program will also discuss the most effective mental health support for nurses at this moment.
Driving change in this space is paramount. We must prioritize the changes we need. As we prioritize, we want to connect to mental health supports and develop strategies and actions to drive system changes from our employers, government, and within our union.
AGENDA & OBJECTIVES:
4:00-4:50—Marie Rudden, MD
Moral Injury, “Burnout” or PTSD: Best Practices for Providing Mental Health Support to Nurses
—Objective: Understand the history of research on psychological challenges faced by nurses; Identify and evaluate at least two strategies that have been employed to address them.
4:50-5:40—Patricia Pittman, PhD, FAAN:
Moral Injury Among Healthcare Workers
—Objective: Participants will be able to define moral injury and identify systemic solutions. The presenter will also discuss themes from moral injury interviews among nurses and a preliminary problem and action framework.
5:40-6:00—Planning Advocacy to address Moral Injury/Distress
You must attend the entire presentation to receive a certificate; partial CEs won’t be given. Nurse Alliance of SEIU PA is an approved provider of CE credits under State of California Board of Registered Nurses, CE Provider No.14472.
Mandatory Overtime (Act 102): Know Your Rights
Thursday, July 14th from 1PM-2PM or 7PM-8PM
Our union led the fight to ban Mandatory Overtime (Act 102), but we know it takes workers stepping up to enforce laws rather than employers just following them.
How can my co-workers and I use the law to actually prevent mandation? What’s covered in Act 102? How do you address violations under the law or our union contract? This training will answer these questions and cover other best practices around addressing mandatory overtime.
Register for dial-in information: