I’m a writer, and I’m passionate about what I do, but I tend to avoid hot topics when blogging. I have plenty of opinions, but so does everyone else, and I like to leave controversy to the controversial. This week, however, I became genuinely riled.
I’m a third generation nurse and have been for 22 years. I’ve worked in geriatrics, oncology, med/surg, telemetry, critical care, and transplant, and I hold nurses in the highest esteem. The hours are long with few breaks (if any), the work is physically demanding, and the insidious emotional toll often irreversible. And – in reality – we rarely feel supported.
I was literally outraged this week to find out that Vanderbilt Medical Center, in my old stomping grounds of Nashville, TN, has made the decision to cut back on housekeeping and have their nursing staff clean patient rooms.
Click HERE to watch/read details of the Vanderbilt announcement
“Cleaning the room after a case, including pulling the trash and mopping the floor, are all infection prevention strategies, and it’s all nursing – it’s all surgical tech. You may not believe that, but even Florence Nightingale knew it was true.”
I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that Flo wished she’d had someone to take care of the floors and toilets so that she could concentrate on safe, effective patient care.
Vanderbilt’s administrator goes on to add, “The priority will be what patients see.”
What about what they don’t see? Who’s going to take care of that, and how often??
“We must continue to care for our patients, and we must do so in an efficient manner”
Efficiency in nursing is a challenge now given the amount of responsibility that RNs hold. What do we do when one of our patients has a crisis, and we’re wrapped in our “personal protective equipment” mopping floors?
When I graduated from nursing, I went through a three year diploma program in Canada that was focused primarily on patient care. At some point the powers-that-be decided that we should all have a more theory based degree under our belts to raise the overall status of our profession. God knows that will come in handy when we’re scrubbing toilets.
This is an overall bad decision. It’s bad for nursing, and it’s bad for patients. I predict poor patient outcomes, cross contamination, increased infection rates, more critical incidences, patient dissatisfaction, burnout, sick calls, and an irreversible dive in an already low morale.
We deserve better. Our patients deserve better.
Please talk about this to your friends and family, inform the public, and be very concerned. We need nurses, and we need them to be able to practice in a safe and supportive environment. This affects everyone.