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Local nurses upset about team strategy

More than 100 staff members participate in petition regarding ‘team nursing’

Posted: April 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

A petition protesting “team nursing” and signed by more than 100 nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital was sent to administrators last month, but a spokesman for the nurses said Friday no response has been received.

“We have invited him twice and we’re still waiting to get together,” Gerry Daley of the California Nurses Association said of Larry Kidd, vice president of patient care and chief nursing office at the Santa Clarita Valley’s only hospital.

“The California Nurses Association union failed to establish any facts that we were in violation of the California law on ratios or any contractual provision,” Mark Puleo, the hospital’s vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a prepared statement late Friday afternoon in response to inquiries from The Signal.

At least 154 registered nurses signed and delivered a petition last month recommending hospital administrators “shut down the team nursing program, and restore ... primary-care nursing practiced at all other reputable hospitals in Southern California.”

Team nursing involves teaming up a registered nurse with a licensed vocational nurse. Together, the team handles more patients than an RN would handle by himself or herself, according to the nurses and their interpretation of the ratio of patients to licensed nurses mandated by the state.

Some registered nurses at the hospital have said the system compromises patient care. California is the only state in the country that mandates a ratio of patients to licensed nurses. The ratio varies according to the level of care required.

“The nursing staff is working directly with their leadership to refine and improve the way they work together; whether it’s called ‘team nursing’ or called something else, we function within and sometimes beyond the ratios defined by law,” Puleo said in his statement.

The nurses’ petition reads: “Team nursing devalues the importance of the RN’s direct, primary relationship to the patient, and turns our work into mere disembodied sets of functions that we (or non-RNs) can perform in an assembly-line fashion.”

“Please end it now, and restore our role as primary-care nurses. Thanks for your consideration.”


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