YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The union representing nurses at Northside Medical Center said a new addition to the hospital has the potential to benefit the community, but only if the company that owns the facility backs off on a staffing model that could hurt the patient care and instead treats nurses as a partner in providing quality patient care.
Community Health Systems Inc., the Nashville, Tenn.-based corporation that owns Northside, announced this week that it plans to break ground next month on a new $20 million addition, including a 30,000-square-foot addition to the emergency room.
"The planned new wing at Northside will either be a tremendous community asset or a white elephant," said Kelly Trautner, deputy executive officer of the Ohio Nurses Association. "It all depends on whether CHS continues to insist on its misguided proposal for a staffing system that could essentially ration nursing care, or whether they decide to treat nurses as partners in quality care.
"What good is a brand-spanking new building if it comes at the cost of reducing the quality of patient care in other parts of the hospital?" Trautner added. "We have urged CHS to back away from the proposed staffing plan it offered during recent negotiations. You don't get quality care with a plan that could result in rationing nursing care."
At issue is CHS's plan to adopt a staffing model at Northside in which nurses could be told not to come in or sent home on short notice when there are fewer patients than anticipated—and then called back if the patient count suddenly rises.
Northside nurses are nearing their 12th month without a new contract. ONA has been urging CHS to work together with nurses to reach an agreement that will continue the facility's excellent record of quality patient care.
Trautner said that in anticipation of a higher patient load, CHS is considering adding nursing staff for the emergency room. "But we hope that in their planning, they will put the same focus on the importance of adequate nurse/patient ratios throughout the hospital," she said.
SOURCE Ohio Nurses Association