Tonawanda News

April 11, 2013

GUEST VIEW: KMH at mercy of corporate greed

By Lori Ann Meder
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — In 2000 I began working at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Admissions. I was amazed at the caring and compassion I witnessed by the nursing staff in the hospital. 

In 2001, I became a registered nurse and reluctantly left the community hospital for a larger local hospital that was offering a full-time position. Immediately, I noticed the environment and the people inside it were different. The staff was never as welcoming and there was no team effort amongst coworkers to facilitate better care. 

In 2006, I returned to Kenmore Mercy excited to be a nurse in the hospital I loved. The level of caring and compassion I wittnessed back in 2000 was there again. We always worked as a team to get the job done putting our patients and their families first. I currently call the ICU my home and I am blessed to work alongside these men and women. 

Our nurses continually go above and beyond the call of duty to treat our patients with reverence, dignity and compassion. We are with people in their darkest hours providing them with outstanding physical, emotional and spiritual support. We are on the front lines to hear their frustrations and concerns. Nurses are the educators, advocates and cheerleaders. Nurses are the tear-wipers, hand-holders and last good-byers. Nurses are the foundation of the hospital and it’s foundation. Without nurses the hospital is just another buliding. 

I am embarrased and ashamed to know this place I call home has administrators that do not respect or value nurses as they once did. Our nurses are the driving force behind the accolades and awards that adorn our facility. We have dedicated our lives to providing outstanding care to the people in this community. I understand the hospital is a business — but the business mentality is going to be the destruction of Kenmore Mercy as we know it. 

Corporate greed is affecting the hospital’s bottom line in negotiating a fair contract for the nurses. We nurses have asked for nothing new. We asked to maintain the current contract. Nurses who put in extra time to accomodate for sick calls, open positions and changes in volume are expected to do this without incentive. The lack of perks to attract and retain new nurses is evident in the proposed contract. Some of the non-financial concessions include removal of one emergency day off per year and a cap on requested days off per month. 

The hospital has spent thousands of dollars training newly hired nurses only to have them leave a year later for more attractive positions elsewhere. Although there appears to be an abundance of new nurses pumped out by local colleges and universities, this dime-a-dozen mentality is affecting the hospitals bottom line, is it not? And how should we feel as loyal employees to Kenmore Mercy when we are told “we have your replacements on contingency” and “ you are all replaceable?” 

The hospital is expected to run “business as usual, with or without you,” we were told.

It has been said we are only hurting ourselves to fight for a fair contract ... but are we? If we accept the proposed contract that offers no incentive to take on extra shifts and fill the evident staffing shortage, and/or attract and retain new nurses aren’t we ultimately hurting our patients? Fewer nurses equals less quality care. This will decrease patient satisfaction, which affects hospital reimbursement. 

Short staffing directly impacts patient safety and patient outcomes. So why don’t some see this impacts the hospital’s bottom line also? Not to mention the millions of dollars the hospital is willing to spend on our ‘replacements’ while we are fighting for our patient’s safety and satisfaction. 

As a business wouldn’t it be more cost effective to keep your current employees satsified? I hope administration takes a long hard look at how their proposed cuts will effect their bread and butter. Not to mention how greatly it will effect those people in our community in which we serve.

Lori Ann Meder, RN BSN, works at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. She lives in the Town of Tonawanda.