Last month, California nurses in San Diego held a meeting in town hall to discuss Tri-City Medical and Palomar hospital concerns. The North County nurses have explained that while being understaffed is one of the most crucial issues being breached, it’s far from the only issue to be discussed. Pay, patient care, and patterns in staff hiring and firing will be some of the hot topics the medical community is facing today.
The main issue at hand, the nursing shortage, has left medical staff feeling extremely overwhelmed, overworked, and undervalued. With no support staff to take over during times of busy traffic, the nurses are unable to take appropriate breaks and meals, some even finding it difficult to make time to run to the washroom between patients.
While the California law sets forth a standard for hospitals to follow regarding nursing staff and the number of patients designated to each, the staff at these two hospitals argue that there are times they are unable to follow protocol. Nurse Bennett, one of the nurses who made the initial Oceanside conference before the official town hall meeting, suggested that there are occasions a patient is so ill the nursing staff has to put so much time into that one patient that they are unable to properly manage less ill patients on their caseloads.
For nurses who love their jobs and take pride in helping others this is troubling. Not only is it leaving them with unworkable conditions, but it’s causing further shortages as the turnover rate in these hospitals expands.
New Issues on the Horizon
Palomar nurses are facing particularly worrisome times as an increase in mental health patients has become unmanageable with the Tri-City behavioral health center closing only recently. Both hospitals are feeling the bite, but Palomar has commented on the extreme pressures they are undergoing. Not having enough nurses and health care workers to compensate the overflow has caused some patients to be turned away.
Mental health concerns have risen in the past decade for California, and all states. Not being able to properly treat these patients could lead to larger issues in the future and could be detrimental to patient health and even patient lives.
Layoffs and Patient Coverage
While California nurses saw 59 employees lose their jobs at the beginning of October, Palomar Health has commented that they feel they are still functioning above state requirements. The nurses of the hospital feel otherwise. Palomar went on to discuss recent changes to the psychiatric coverage in ER departments, and suggested they’re up by 73% in hours spent with mental health patients.
With hospitals allegedly turning a blind eye to the nurse’s plight, they’ve been driven to take action and are pleading with the community to stand with them. Whether the latest meetings have made a difference to the opinions of Tri-City hospitals is yet to be seen. San Diego nurses continue to do their civic duty despite waning conditions, helping patients and hoping for the best in the coming months.