Monday, June 30, 2008

A Tale Of Health Care Professionals Overworked, Stressed Out, And Pushed To The Breaking Point.

They only wanted a chance to do what they were trained to do. What they went to school for. To care for people the way they were inspired to do at the moment they decided on their life's work. They wanted to do right by the people who depended on them. The corporate overlords had other plans.

"You did a really good job the other day when we were busy" The overlords would say. "We'll be able to save a lot of money by scheduling hours at that level from now on."

"You've got to be kidding me" said the health care professionals. "The other day was a crisis. We can't perform at that level 365 days a year."

"We're paying you good money." Replied the overlords. "You'll do what we say." Then they cut some more hours from the schedule.

So the health care professionals tried to cope. Because patients were depending on them. They spent day after day without seeing the sun with three things to do at once for 12 hours at a time. Their feet hurt. Their back hurt. They tried to cope. They held the health care of the people who depended on them together the best they could for as long as they could, and were rewarded with more tasks and less help. The health care professionals knew that the people who depended on them weren't getting the best the health care professionals had to offer. They were tired, some were broken, and all they wanted was the time to do their job properly.

Sound familiar? Well don't flatter yourself. I'm not talking about you. This group of health care professionals had the testicular fortitude to do something about it.

"I swear to God if you do not change things we will force you" said the California Nurses Association.

"Piss off" said the overlords. "You're cashing your paychecks, so you'll do as you're told"

The overlords started to listen though, when the nurses learned how to play politics. Against all odds, they maneuvered a skinny little weasel serving as Governor into their corner.

"But....but....we'll never be able to run a hospital if you do what they want" said the overlords, but the weasel looked over at the nurses and was afraid. He did what the nurses wanted.

But then the weasel was replaced with a big, scary, terminator robot. "You vill do vat de korprates vant" said the robot. "Or I vill krush you like I krush de aliens in de movees"

The nurses responded by kicking the robot in the testicles, which were very hard to find due to many years of steroid use, and as of January 1st, California has fully implemented its legally mandated nurse to patient ratios. Yet somehow the hospitals have continued to operate. How about that. I am in love with The California Nurses Association, and I desperately wish they would organize this state's pharmacists.

Before you poo-poo me the way you have been programmed to poo-poo the very mention of the word "union," I will remind you that I, and every other pharmacist in California, get 30 minutes to try and stuff some food in my face only because of long-ago efforts by the United Food and Commercial Workers. (Look at the second letter if you click on the link)

Do you get to eat in your state? No? Huh. I bet you get pretty hungry over the course of a 12 hour day. I know I used to. Yet somehow, even with the fact that I get to put something in my stomach, all the prescriptions in California seem to get filled. How about that.

Anyway, you should probably get back to work now. I'm sure you have lots to do.

And I'm pretty sure, unless you do something about it, you'll have more to do tomorrow.


Kim said...

As angry as I get with CNA on occasion, I make a good salary and I have (now) adequate staffing thanks to the nurses to had the guts to go for it.

Nice post!

sickofstupidpeople said...

I get lunch. On a day there's a second pharmacist, a whole hour, and when it's just me, 30 minutes with the pharmacy closed. Which usually only turns out to be 20 minutes, but that's better than nothin'... And I thank the California laws for that - my company decided to institute that practice nationwide. Works for me...

Conni said...

I'm glad NC has a law mandating 30 minute lunch breaks and 12-hour maximum shift for pharmacists. It's lame that it took until mid-2007 for this to come into being, however.

NC also has a law limiting RX/RPh/day to 150. Not that it really, you know, limits the number of scrips you fill a day, but if you fuck up and it's shown that you did >150 that day, your *employer* is liable, not you. Sweet.

The Farmacy Man said...

Well put. I know we as pharmacists often seem to butt heads with nurses in the day to day work activities but in the end we're really all in this together as health care professionals and we ought to be working together to better everyone's lives, including our own.

Anonymous said...

i can't relate. i spend most of my day reading blogs, twittering and chatting on gmail.


life insurance broker Toronto said...

And what we can say, here in Canada? Everything is public and to get treatment from doctor takes eternity. And it's always hard situation for medical staff. They can't just swith off the machines and turn off the light, when there are crowds waiting, on the other hand, they have their private life and kids waiting for the dinner as everybody does. Good choice would be to attract more people = make wages more attractive, but there is no money for it. And despite many people are backing private insurance spreading (we in life insurance brokers Toronto as well), there are no visible steps for the future...
Take care!

Christine-Megan said...

Another perspective on that.

My unit personally tried to stick with a 1:2 ratio (critical care setting) but if someone goes home sick or something it can be higher, which is insane.

Lipstick said...

Great post. Really great.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for you, the CNA only wants to represent RNs and not other health care workers. Case in point, the ratios they pushed through have forced the loss of support staff jobs , CNAs, LPNs, ect. They are only interested in growing their own piece of the pie at the expense of non RNs. Same thing with how they broke up a union drive by workers at a hospital chain in Ohio. They only want RNs in their union, even if those same RNs have worked with their brothers and sisters in non licensed jobs to better all health care worker's jobs. Trust the CNA at your own peril.

Mother Jones RN said...

I'll trust the CNA over blood sucking CEOs anytime. But thanks for the advice, anonymous.

DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy said...

Anonymous #2,

Those of us who get our news from places other than cable TV are well aware that the CNA is locked in a bitter fight with the SEIU.

Now your comment wouldn't have anything to do with that, would it?

Odysseyqueen said...

Thank you for another insightful post. My husband is a family practice physician in the army, and he is worked much harder than us (the pharmacists). I told him years ago that physicians should unionize. When they want to go home after an 80 hour week, they were criticized for "not caring enough for their patients", and "no one is going to care for your patient like you will". Your post describes his situation perfectly. The sad part is, now that he deployed to Afghanistan, he finally gets some rest and a chance to eat. The doctors here were begging to go to Iraq to get out of the overbearing workload and disrespect at the base hospital in the states (which is run by, of course, an HMO type organization and the money crunchers.) How sad is that, when going to a combat zone is easier being a healthcare provider here at home?

DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy said...

"How sad is that, when going to a combat zone is easier being a healthcare provider here at home?

Pretty fucking sad.....wait....are you a recruiter?