Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Liquid Breakfast

An employee was removed by police.  The nursing supervisor said she was drinking.

I didn't smell anything on her.

She is normally bizarre, talks back to authority, is suspicious, and does little work.

This morning nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

But the supervisor was able to get her out.  The cops approached and said, "So we hear you were drinking before coming to work today."

This took the employee by surprise.  She denied the accusation, but was escorted out.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

To Stay or Leave?

If the bad employees left, this place would be bearable.

This will not happen.  I know that.

After reading the article "Why You'll Never Quit the Job You Hate."  I realized that I stay at this Snake Pit because (I can't find another job) and I focus on the positive aspects:

- A paycheck every two weeks.
- Health Insurance.
- Short commute.
- More paid time off than most other employers.

"Comfortable" was the term used in the article.

Uncomfortable describes my emotional state while at work, but the above benefits make my life more comfortable overall.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

She who is not to be Trusted

My supervisor left the office for an off-site meeting.  Another nurse was sent in her place.  (Keep in mind that I am constantly asked to justify my existence in this office.  The office could run for a few hours without pulling a nurse from a floor to fill in for my supervisor.)

The substitute arrived right after my supervisor left.  One of the witches (not a nurse) who occupies the area called out to the sub and hustled her into an exam room.  I hurried to the door to listen.

"Here are the keys," the witch said to the substitute.  "At the end of the day, DON'T give them to Enid.  Give them back to me."

For the rest of the shift, I pretended that nothing was amiss.  I made small chat with the substitute nurse and was very careful to not say anything of substance.  I hoped to give her the impression that my supervisor's suspicions of me were baseless.

It didn't work.  While helping a doctor with a confused and resistant patient, I laughed along with the patient to distract him and make him more cooperative.  The substitute nurse just stood there, not helping.  She said, "You see, Enid, this is why people don't like you.  When you laugh, you sound evil."

I looked at her with no laugh or smile.

"It's true!" she continued.  As if her opinion was a fact that could be true.

I said nothing.  The orderly who escorted the patient was supposed to be inside the room to control the patient.  Where was he?  Down the hall on his phone, oblivious to the circus caused by the patient.  Two people who were supposed to be helping the patient were not; instead, one thought it was okay to criticize me personally.  It didn't matter that I got the patient through the procedure.  The nurse won't mention that part of the day, only that she doesn't like working with me.

On the inside, I was a swirl of negative emotions.  I felt stupid for staying in the job, stupid for not being able to find another position, stupid for not being able to fix this.  I am stagnate in this job.  This halts not only my professional growth, but it is so emotionally draining that I have no energy left for personal growth and development.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Passing the Pills to Pay the Bills

This picture captures how I felt working in nursing homes.

Most of my time was spent gathering medications.  So little time was available for slowly administering them in a kind, understanding manner.

From a medical viewpoint, this many pills are bad for anyone, never mind someone who is elderly and sick.  They interact with one another and cannot be fully absorbed.  Sometimes a patient would vomit intact pills hours after receiving medications.

This system must be changed.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Dragon Attacks, Part Four

I was seeing patients with the wound care doctor when Nurse Wilma burst in and chewed out the doctor and me for HIPAA violations, poor infection control procedures, and violating myriad other hospital policies.

(Months ago Wilma had done something similar when I was with this doctor.  Wilma entered the exam room and threw a stack of papers at me.  As they floated through the air and fell to the floor, Wilma said, "I'm saving you the time and trouble of claiming that you are too dense to locate the new forms.  Here they are.")

This latest tirade was performed in front of the patient and was loud enough that a group formed in the doorway to listen.

The doctor finished with the patient and then announced to me, "I'm done.  I don't have to take this."  I followed her off the ward.

Nurse Wilma called after the doctor, "You'll be reported!"

The doctor sent me back for the charts of the patients she saw, plus the ones that she could not see because of Wilma.

In each chart, the doctor wrote that Nurse Wilma prevented her from assessing patients and providing care.  She then called the director of the hospital, reported Wilma's behavior, and said that she expects the incident to be addressed and that if it happens again, she will quit on the spot and that the hospital will never find another specialist to work for such low pay.

I thanked her.

But what will Wilma do for revenge now?

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Dragon Attacks, Part Three

Wilma struck again.

One of my (many) jobs is to coordinate transfers into the psych ward from a medical floor.  (An overriding medical problem will prevent a patient from being directly admitted to psych.)

I don't make the actual decision.  That is the job of a doctor ("Doctor X") who oversees these transfers.  I gather information, present to him, and make phone calls to facilitate or deny the transfer.

Wilma, the administrative nurse who has been harassing me, admitted a medically compromised patient to the psych ward in the evening after I left.  I found out the next day when people called to complain about not having necessary supplies and staff trained to deal with the patient's medical issues.

To clarify, Wilma has never had any involvement with this process.  She also does not work evenings.

Doctor X in charge had reviewed the case and denied the transfer to psych, to reevaluate after resolution of medical issues.  He believed me when I explained that I did not have the patient transferred.

Later, the director of the hospital forwarded me an email chain in which Wilma claimed that she had to "step in" because "Nurse Enid once again failed to perform her assigned duties."

I needed a simple, written defense.  "I presented the referral to Dr X, who declined transfer as of yesterday because of the medical problems detailed in previous emails."

Dr X will not respond to anything in writing.  The only person who answered was Wilma.  In an email to me only, she wrote, "You are not permitted to send email" and "This matter does not concern you."  That is her pattern.  She accuses me and then tells me that I am not allowed to speak.

I forwarded her response to me to the director of the hospital.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Dragon Attacks, Part Two

And Wilma struck again.

I need the head medical doctor to sign off on certain things.  He is impossible to track down and he doesn't answer his phone.  When I venture out of my little area, I always carry a folder of stuff for his signature in case I bump into him.

I saw him early one morning and followed him into the daily nursing meeting.  I've attended this meeting before.  It's a boring waste of time.  The shift supervisors read aloud the shift report, stumbling over words, as if they were not the author.

I sat behind the head doctor and handed him paper after paper to sign.  As we finished, the meeting was over, so everyone filed out.

Nurse Wilma was lurking outside the door.  She followed one of the shift supervisors and a screaming match quickly started.

"She has no business being in that meeting!  Why didn't you kick her out?" Wilma screamed at the supervisor.

"She's attended the meeting before.  It's not a big deal.  She was doing something with the doctor."

"You can't let her do whatever she wants to do.  She is out of control!  Who does she report to?" Wilma screamed.

The shift supervisor informed Wilma that my immediate supervisor has been out for the last six weeks for a medical problem.  (It has been wonderful.)  Wilma lost it, screaming, "So she is allowed to run all over this hospital, doing whatever she wants, with nobody saying anything to her?  This is unheard of.  I want this problem addressed immediately and I am holding you responsible.  As far as the hospital is concerned, her behavior will come back on you, so you better take a stand now."

With those words, I realized how Wilma would convince my immediate supervisor to add to my responsibilities and get me in trouble.  Wilma threatened her, saying that we would both be in trouble if she did not take Wilma's side against me.

Later the shift supervisor called me.  "Listen, Wilma was wrong, but she has a point.  You shouldn't attend meetings because you are not important.  And to be on the safe side, I'm not including you in any emails or any other sharing of patient information.  Wilma is after you, and I'm not going to get in the middle of whatever you two are fighting about.  Just leave me out of it."

"But you are taking her side by cutting me off," I explained.

"No, I'm getting away from both of you," she insisted.

"That's not the power dynamic here," I explained.  "You and Wilma are both over me.  When she commands that an action be taken against me, and you go along with her, you are not neutral.  You are undermining me and limiting my ability to carry out the functions of my job."

The supervisor could not follow.

"Listen, just don't speak to her.  She's not really in charge of anybody, and frankly, I'm sick of her yelling at me too," the supervisor added, as if to invoke my sympathy.  "And another thing.  I heard that you are unhappy with the emergency policy.  If you want to change it, go to the committee on policy.  I have no idea why you would get Wilma involved in that."

"Wilma heads the policy committee.  I didn't bring her into it.  She brought me into it," I explained.  Exasperated.

"Oh, well, I didn't know that," the supervisor fumbled.  "Either way, just say nothing to Wilma."

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Dragon Attacks, Part One

After I clarified that administrative nurse Wilma dictates inventory as well as my job duties, she attacked.  And repeated.

The first attack was in email.  At least I have a record.  One of my many duties is to assist the wound care doctor.  The shift supervisor wanted wound measurements on a certain patient to put in her report.  Instead of holding the patient's nurse responsible for this information, the supervisor called me.  Like all the supervisors, she is an idiot.  One of her weaknesses is that she does not understand numbers.  These were especially difficult numbers because decimals were involved.

So I typed the measurements into an email and sent them to her.  Only her.  She could copy and paste them into her report.  More likely, she printed the email and then attempted to transcribe the numbers into her report.  Inaccurately.

The next day, Wilma, the evil administrative nurse, sent me an email, accusing me of withholding clinical information.  Yesterday's shift supervisor, for no logical reason, forwarded my email of wound measurements to a bunch of people, including Wilma.

Later Wilma and I crossed paths.  In front of staff, patients, visitors, and whoever else was in the vicinity, Wilma sternly admonished me for not reporting patient information to her.  I replied, "All information is in the chart."

She ranted to herself:  "You give her very simple, clear directions that a child could follow, yet she doesn't do it.  And when you try to help her, correct her, so that we can take care of the patient, she argues with you and insists that she gets to do whatever she wants to do.  She is out of control."

I walked away.  I knew there would be fall-out because I defended myself about the emergency gone wrong.  I don't know how far she will take this and how many others will follow her.  I doubt that she is in any trouble for the emergency problem, so her attacks on me are pure harassment.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Rousing the Evil Dragon, Part Two

One day after emails where I clarified that administrative nurse Wilma controls policy, the psych ward had a real emergency.  The person died.

Normally they page me frantically, expecting me to swoop in and magically save the day.  I don't know where this idea came from.

But for this real emergency, I did not hear about it until I was leaving for the day.

Again the director of the hospital was standing outside when I departed.

"We had a death today," he started.

"Oh," I answered simply and without interest, trying to convince him that this had nothing to do with me.

"We could not find certain medications and supplies," he continued.  I said nothing.  "So tell me, if you are doing your job of making sure that we have everything we need in an emergency, why was it that we could not find necessary medications and supplies?"

I was panicking on the inside.  They botched a code and were blaming me.  This is exactly what I feared when this responsibility was forced on me.

"What couldn't you find?" I asked.

The director named some medications and supplies.  There isn't necessarily a connection between the "missing" items and the outcome.

"You didn't find any of those items because we don't have them in psych," I answered.  Maybe I could be vindicated.

The director hesitated.  "Don't you think those are necessary items for an emergency?"

"I'm not sure," I replied.  "I don't have any experience in emergency nursing."

"Then why are you in charge of emergencies?" he was loosing his composure.

"Because Wilma in administration said so," I replied.

"So why didn't you make sure that people have what they need to appropriately respond to an emergency?" he continued.

"I don't have that authority," I explained.  "Wilma revised the policy.  She eliminated a lot of items, so I can't get them."

"Why didn't you tell anybody?" he asked.

"This was no secret and I did tell a lot of people, including you," I said this carefully.  "You were at a meeting about this and you said that you cannot override a nursing policy because you are not a nurse and will instead defer to Wilma's judgment."

"You have the old policies?" he asked.

"Yes, I do.  They are also on the hospital's intranet, so anyone can access them."  I added, "I have all the emails about my objections to this revised policy, as well as Wilma's and your responses that the policy will stand as she rewrote it."

He stared at me.

"And don't bother to delete my email account here at the hospital.  You'll see that I forwarded all those emails to my private email account.  There are multiple electronic and hard copies," I continued.  "I started preparing my defense to this situation as soon as Wilma put it on me a year ago."

"I'll look into this," he said and walked away.

It was risky taking such a hard stance with the director.  But I can lose so much if the hospital blames me for this incident.  Maybe if they think that I have documents that exonerate me and make Wilma look bad, they won't pursue action against me.  I'm sure that the director does not like Wilma.  This does not mean that he'll sacrifice her over me, but I have to look like a fighter and not a doormat because this is serious.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rousing the Evil Dragon, Part One

Earlier this year I was appointed responsible for emergencies and anything that anyone thinks could be related to an emergency.  I have no authority; I am just supposed to be the scapegoat.

The main witch who spearheaded this effort is a nurse in administration, "Wilma."  A few weeks ago, Wilma forwarded me a string of emails of people's usual lack of knowledge about handling emergencies and finding supplies and forms.  Wilma asked me to explain how people could find certain forms and policies.  One of her responses to an inquirer: "I have no idea where Nurse Enid put them.  One would think that she would make them easily accessible to everyone, but that is not the case."

I replied, "The forms and policies pertaining to emergency services, which you authored, are on the hospital's intranet where you put them."  I sent the email to Wilma, the inquirers, and hospital administration.

Wilma emailed only me.  "What is your problem?" and "You do not have permission to email administrative personnel."

I forwarded Wilma's email to hospital administration with a copy to her so she could see that I did it.

As I left for the day, the director of the hospital was standing in the front of the building.  "What is going on in those emails?" he asked.

I answered cautiously, "It seems that Wilma has forgotten that she drafted a certain policy."

He said, "It's good for her to be reminded of the truth."

I walked away.  It sounded like he was on my side.

Just in time for a code the next day . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2016

And Peace for All

One of the doctors loves this combination of injections to calm a person down:  diphenhydramine (Benedryl), lorazepam (Ativan), and haloperidol (Haldol).

But he doubles the doses of haloperidol and diphenhydramine as seen in the picture.

One person can throw an entire floor into chaos.  It's nice to work with someone who wants to help everyone relax.  Not all doctors will medicate a person who is out of control, forcing the entire ward to ride out the storm.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Union of Sheeple

Just in case you didn't think that the union was in cahoots with administration:

Urgent meeting called by the union.

The hospital wants to change our health insurance.  Without hearing anything further, I guessed that the "new" plan will cost the hospital less and the employees more.

The union rep said, "It's a pretty good plan and it will actually cost us less per paycheck than the current one."

"We have a good plan, one of the only good things about working here," I offered.  "How much less does the new plan cost us?"

The union rep flopped around and finally came up with a number:  $20 less per paycheck.

"Doesn't the 'new' plan have an annual one thousand dollar deductible before paying anything, including routine office visits from in-network doctors?" I asked.

"Well, yes," the union rep said.  "But the current plan also has deductibles."

"Not for in-network providers," I replied.  "You only pay a deductible when you go to someone who is not in the plan."

"Well, it's still a savings," the union rep continued.

"No, it is not," I asserted.  "We have 26 paychecks per year.  Multiply that by $20, and you save $520 in premiums.  But then you have to offset that against the new thousand dollar deductible and the higher office copays.  This new plan will cost us more."

The union rep was growing angry.  "All I know is that I cannot afford to have any more money taken out of my paycheck."  The sheeple nodded their heads.  Some glared at me.  "We HAVE to vote yes in this situation," she stated.

She probably made a side deal with administration to get the union to say okay to the new plan.

Her salary is also at least $30,000 more per year than mine as specified in the union contract she helped draft.

Monday, October 10, 2016

How to Undermine Performance

This article about a student's nightmare internship details some of the same attacks that are used at my job.

1-  The supervisor said that she had never seen the intern do any work.  The implication is that the intern does no work.  When the intern pressed the supervisor to explain, she denied any wrongdoing, explaining that she had never seen her work with a client because she never observed her in the private counseling room and had no intentions of doing so.

People do this at my job all the time.  They report, "I did not see So-and-So doing that" to convey that the task was not done.  When confronted, they will justify the answer with "I was not in the room when you did that, so I did not see you."  However, when spreading rumors, not being in the room and not witnessing an act does not disqualify someone from asserting its truthfulness.

The other shade of this technique is to say, "I don't know where So-and-So is," implying that the person is missing from an assigned work station without permission.  When confronted, the instigator will reply, "I know you said you were escorting a patient.  But I was not with you, so how would I know where you were?"  And no, they can't say, "So-and-So left ten minutes ago to escort a patient."  They have to make trouble.

2-  The supervisor accused the intern of not being successful in patient care.  When the intern showed evidence of her effectiveness, the supervisor explained that any success was do to the intern's improper behavior with clients and not because she is a good therapist.

At my job, other employees get upset and angry if they see that I have a positive rapport with patients.  They accuse me of buying cooperation from patients with money, gifts, or flirtation.  They can't accept that treating patients as human beings would positively impact behavior.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Owning Overtime

In case I had any hopes that the union for nurses could ever be on my side, that is gone.

On Friday afternoon, a supervisor asked me to work the weekend for overtime on the floor.  "Nurse Megan has been out sick all week.  She usually covers this weekend, but I haven't heard from her yet, and I don't want to be short."

I asked, "What if she shows up?  Do I go home without pay?"

"No, I'll just move you somewhere else where it's wild," the supervisor said.  (Not that her guarantee of today would exist tomorrow.)

I came in Saturday and worked the shift without Nurse Megan appearing.  As the shift neared its end, the supervisor told me that Nurse Megan called, upset that her overtime shift was given away, and demanded that she work tomorrow.  "So I don't need you tomorrow," the supervisor commanded.

On Monday, we had a nurses' union meeting.  The people who take $50 out of my paycheck in return for . . . nothing.

Nurse Megan made an appearance and declared, while glaring at me, that her overtime was taken away and she wanted to file a complaint against the supervisor who did it.

There were gasps in the room.  Some people offered pity, others angrily demanded to know the name of the supervisor who did this.

"Megan, I worked Saturday because we didn't know if you were going to show up or not because you had called out sick all week.  The supervisor said she would keep both of us if you came into work, but you didn't.  She then took my overtime away for Sunday because you said you wanted it," I explained to the unsympathetic crowd.

"I was not sick!" Megan snapped, annoyed.

"Oh, that's what the supervisor told me," I explained.  I recalled that she had been out all week.

"I called out sick, but I was not sick.  I had things to do.  I have a life, you know," Megan hissed, rolling her eyes like an annoyed teenager.

"Of course we'll file a complaint for you!" the union rep chimed in.  "We protect the rights of our nurses."

"I'd like to file a complaint, too," I chimed in.  The group turned and stared at me.  "My overtime for Sunday was taken away."

"It wasn't YOUR overtime," Megan yelled.  "You don't own overtime."

"But you do," I said to Megan.

"Yes.  I've been working overtime since before you ever started working here, so it is mine and not yours," Megan quipped.

"Okay, so Megan," the union rep interjected, "We'll file a complaint for you to be paid for the shift that was taken from you at the overtime rate of time and a half, plus ask for double as a penalty for giving the shift away to Nurse Enid."

"You want the hospital sanctioned for giving me overtime?  I'm also a nurse that you represent," I admonished.

"Well, they were wrong," the union rep answered.  "We can't make demands without stating the facts, so we have to give the name of the nurse who took the overtime, and that was you.  There are rules."

"What rule says that you get paid for not working a shift that you are not scheduled to work?"  The union rep didn't answer, so I continued, "There is a rule that says that sick days can only be used for illness, not running errands."

"We are all on the same team here," the union rep said.

"And what is my position?" I asked.  "Odd man out?"

So I left.  But first I went over to the refreshment table and placed a bunch of bagels and cookies in a bag and carried it out.  Breakfast for a week, but still not a recoup of the $50 from this paycheck.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Job Interview

Job interview!

On the telephone.  Saved me from having to take a day off for nothing.

I locked myself in a bathroom for the interview.  Not the best environment, but there is no other private spot.

I was offered this rare interview because a friend put a word in for me at the insurance company where he works.  They were looking for nurse case managers for accident claims.

So I described my job as similar to case management, which it is.  It can be a lot of things, but this company needed to hear about my case management experience, so that is what I highlighted.

The deal breaker was this question:  "So why did you pick our insurance company to work for?"

Umm, my friend arranged for this telephone interview and that is how I "picked" you.  But I could not answer like that.  So I said I was looking for a more professional environment to expand my skills and that my friend said the atmosphere of this insurance company was what I was looking for.

Not good enough.  The interviewer, who was not a nurse by the way, wanted to know why I chose this particular insurance company over the other insurance companies in the state.

I didn't have a better answer.  I don't know how any of them treat their employees.  They probably all pay around the same amount and provide the same crappy health insurance.  There aren't a lot of choices for job seekers.  Most applications fall into a black hole.  Every insurance company in the state does not call me to interview.  Actually, this was the first ever.

At least the company sent a follow-up email stating that I did not get the job.

Update from a Retiree

An retired orderly visited the hospital.  He worked at the hospital for over thirty years and left a few months ago.

"Best thing I ever did," he said about leaving the hospital.  "I did not realize how stressful this place was, and all because of sheer nonsense."

We saw this theme before when I bumped into a social worker who quit.  She wasn't old enough to retire and collect a pension or social security, so she took a lower paying job with fewer perks just to escape.

I keep telling myself that it's not that bad.  There are paychecks and health insurance and paid time off.

It's the accusations and pettiness that gets me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Delusions of Grandeur

Someone barged into my little section of the hospital and screamed at my supervisor for talking about her behind her back.  Talking about people is a common accusation and pastime around here.

My supervisor has a sharp tongue when she wants to.  She replied, "I called CNN about you, but they said that you aren't important and nobody cares."

The person stormed off.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wrapped Around Her Finger

One of the women who works in the general vicinity of my office returned from vacation.  My supervisor was elated.  “My partner!  You are back!  I missed you so much!  I was lost without you!”

What the hell am I?

This woman doesn’t lift a finger to do her own work, never mind anyone else’s. My supervisor will actually do this woman’s work- answer her phone, help her patients, do her filing- while this woman sits on her phone or is missing entirely.  Another lack of judgment on the part of this supervisor, or does this woman have some connections?  She must be in personal favor with management to continue employment without ever doing any work, right?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Confusing Handwriting

Upon returning from a few days off, my supervisor told me that a woman named Ellie kept calling for me.  I have no idea who she is.

For the rest of the day, Ellie called for me, but always when I had just stepped out of the office.  Near the end of the day, I was in an exam room with a doctor and patient when I heard my supervisor frantically yelling, “You can’t go in there.”

A woman hollered back, “I have waited long enough!” and burst into the exam room, focused only on me.  She shoved a paper at me, which I did not take.

“Excuse me, you are violating patient privacy!” I snapped at her.  I remembered her clueless self lurking around a few months ago.

“YOU refuse to answer your phone when I call,” Ellie snapped back.

“Get out!” the doctor hissed.  Ellie stood there, just realizing that other people were in the exam room.  “Get out!” the doctor yelled this time.

Ellie huffed out.  She and the supervisor exchanged negative observations about me in the hall, such as, “I don’t know why she won’t do something as simple as answer a phonecall” and “She doesn’t normally take this long in the exam room.  She is making you wait on purpose.”

When the patient left, Ellie and the supervisor charged into the room, nevermind sanitation.  “Are you still too busy?” Ellie said sarcastically.  My supervisor was staring at me, half scared, half angry.

“What is it that you need?” I asked.

Ellie held out the paper in her hand and pointed to a spot.  “I can’t read this word.  What does it say?”

I craned my neck to look while holding out my soiled gloves, making Ellie jump.  She held a copy of a hand-written doctor’s note that had nothing to do with me.

“I don’t know.  What does it say?” I asked Ellie, smiling.

“I have to transcribe this, but I can’t if I can’t read it,” Ellie said in a nasty tone.

“Of course not,” I added.

“So what does it say?” Ellie blurted, annoyed.

“How would I know?  Why don’t you ask the doctor who scribbled it?” I suggested, still smiling at her, hoping to convey that she was acting like an idiot.

Ellie stood there with phases of confusion washing over her face.  “Isn’t that you?” she tried.
My supervisor was also confused.

I glanced at the paper again and said, “No, I am not Dr Michael Smith.  I am Nurse Enid Mueller."  I stood there, smiling, blinking.

“Is this why you’ve been calling so much?” my supervisor asked Ellie.  “Why didn’t you just tell me what you wanted and I would have told you that she has nothing to do with this doctor?”

Ellie mumbled and fled.

"What was that for?" my supervisor asked me.  I shrugged.

Completely normal in this place.  Think something weird and then get mad at others when acting on these bizarre thoughts.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Accept It or Leave

One of the newer hires is having a very tough time, very similar to my experiences.  She asked me to witness the conversation with a nursing supervisor.

The nurse mentioned that other nurses arrive late, don’t get shift report, push everything off onto her for the rest of the shift, and then leave early.  Same as my story.

The nursing supervisor pretended to not know any of this.  “You need to put it in writing, otherwise, I can’t do anything about it.”

“Can’t you come by on rounds and see them missing, or in the back on their phones, and say something?” the nurse pleaded.

“I’m too busy!” the supervisor quipped.  “You should go to your union if you have a problem with the people you work with.”

“How is this a union issue?” the nurse asked.  “I’m asking you to manage employees, which is your job as the supervisor, yes?  I’m telling you that certain employees are not pulling their weight and making it very difficult for others to do the job, and you want nothing to do with it.”

“Like I said,” the supervisor continued, “I didn’t know this and without these charges in writing from you, I can’t do anything.”

The nurse shook her head.  “Then I want to transfer to night shift.”

“Put it in writing,” the supervisor said.

The nurse pulled a paper from her pocket.  “Here it is.”

“Oh!” the supervisor gasped.  “I can’t accept this.  You have to bring it to the office and they have to stamp it.  Otherwise, it is as if it never existed.”  She paused.  “And it won’t matter.  I can’t let you go to night shift.  We are short on the day shift.  So you are stuck where you are.”

The nurse was surprised.  “I heard they are short on nights as well,” she tried.

“They are,” the supervisor responded.  “But I’m short, too, and you are part of this shift and are not going anywhere.”

After the supervisor left, the nurse turned to me.  “What am I supposed to do?” she asked.

I felt bad for her.  This was me when I started.  It’s still me.  “You have two options.  You either suck it up or you quit.  These same employees who are dumping all the work and blame on you with the blessing of the supervisor are the same people who did it to me years ago.  Nothing changes.  They will never be responsible and will never be held responsible.  When a good nurse is hired, they abuse her until she is fired or quits.  That is how it’s done here.”

“Okay,” she said softly and walked away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Floating on a Cloud

My supervisor lent me out to another department.  I covered there in the past.  In this role, I facilitate movements from crisis to short term to long term placements.

The person I am covering does not want me near her department.  She wants her friend to cover.  The friend is an idiot, so management wants someone who can actually do the job.  Me.

The day was terrible, but I handled it so well.  The day was engineered to be one disaster after another, but I simply laughed and went on.  I am so proud of myself.

First, to get into the office, I have to convince security or maintenance to let me in.  My immediate supervisor happened by when security was about to lend me the key.

“But you have the key!” my supervisor chimed.

“I do not,” I answered.

“I saw it on your keychain,” she insisted.

“How would you distinguish any key from another by sight?” I asked her.  She didn’t follow this reasoning.  I convinced the security guard to let me in anyway.

Once in, I quickly discovered messes.  The director had set up transfers into beds that were not available.  The census would be over.  Tragically over.

When the main secretary arrived late, I was next door, trying to straighten a mess with a secretary in setting up new patient records.  As I walked back into the office, this main secretary was on the phone.  “Oh, she just walked in now,” she said.  “I’m transferring a call to you, Enid.”

I picked up.  It was the director.  “Why are you late?” she started.

“I’m not late.  I’ve been here for almost two hours,” I asserted.

“The secretary said you are just walking in now,” she insisted.

“She meant that I was not at the desk, but instead was at someone else’s desk on a work-related matter, where she saw me thirty seconds earlier,” I answered, annoyed at both of them.  Troublemakers.

“Enid, I’m getting calls on my cell phone.  You can’t put two patients in the same bed.  What are you doing?” she scolded me.

“You made these arrangements yesterday.  I am fixing the messes that you created in anticipation of my arrival today,” I stated.

I’m not pretending that her mistakes are innocent.  Let the Big Wigs see that she screws the hospital to try to make me look bad.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she defended.  “If you can’t handle a simple patient transfer, then you can’t cover for me when I am out.”

“You’re stuck with me until I’m promoted,” I said and hung up on her.  They won’t promote me.  But she fears they will, so I’ll feed into her delusions.

Massive confusion and anger ensued the rest of the day when doctors and social workers realized that their patients were not being transferred as the director had arranged yesterday.

I, however, felt fine.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Trying to Play the Victim

Nurse Helen is very upset and anxious lately.  One of the administrative nursing Big Wigs is after her.  Helen told me this as if I would have sympathy for her.

Helen’s style of work is to do no work and then report the other nurses for make-believe wrongdoings.

“Is she going after you for always being late, always talking on your phone, or for never having any idea what is going on with any of your patients?” I asked Helen with a concerned look on my face.

Helen doesn’t understand sarcasm.  Or long sentences.

“I don’t know,” Helen babbled.  “I did nothing wrong.”

It’s great that someone is going after Helen finally, but nothing will come of it, other than making Helen nervous for a while.  This is better than no repercussions for her despicable behavior over the years.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Good Riddance

One of the doctors was asked to leave.

I am glad to see him go.  He dismisses the patients’ concerns and is easily annoyed by their special needs.

My supervisor always praised him.  She has some brains in her head about nursing and patient care, so I can’t reconcile how she could approve of his actions.

“He is going to be so mad with us,” my supervisor said.  “He’s going to think we let him get fired.”

“I never said anything about him and nobody listens to me anyway,” I offered.

“He’s politically connected,” she whined.  “I hope he doesn’t come after me.  Maybe I can call him and smooth things over.”

As I watched her dialing various numbers and not getting hold of the doctor, I realized how influenced she is by reputations, rumors, and public opinion.  She places no value on actual performance.  This is why she screws me over whenever she can.  She doesn’t think that I have any redeeming value in the eyes of others.

The doctor can’t be politically connected well or he would still be here.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Leaving Early!

“You can go early because you missed lunch,” my supervisor told me.  “Call the office and tell them.”

Two back-to-back doctors caused me to work through lunch.  I was going to eat a snack while I finished the paperwork and then leave at the usual time.  But if she was offering a rare early dismissal, I was taking it.

The secretary of the shift supervisor told me I had to speak to the supervisor directly.  Every supervisor is horrible, but this one is really bad.  “I do not accept,” was her response.  “Your supervisor must call me.”

“I’m not speaking to her,” was my supervisor’s response.  “You already told her and that is good enough.  I don’t need you reporting me because you didn’t get a lunch.”

No matter how long we work together, she will not drop her suspicions about me.

Who would I report her to?  Her friend, the nursing supervisor; or her friend, the human resources director?

I was in a bind.  My immediate supervisor told me to leave early, while the shift supervisor was going to make a big deal of this.  People outside of the nursing department leave early as a routine.  No special circumstances required.

Well, I left early.  I chose the option that left me with extra time.

This event may signal that the evil nursing supervisor is not getting promoted to Director of Nursing.  She was low-key for months, but now can return to making enemies of almost everyone.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Feline Therapy

The newest animal therapist is a cat!

Well-groomed, so soft.  He doesn't like to be held and doesn't seem to notice the patients, but they love seeing him and trying to pet him as he scoots by.

I would like to see one of those miniature horses and the reaction of the patients.

Inspirational Prose (Not Yet)

If I was well-rested and drinking a steady supply of wine, I could write beautiful, inspirational stuff.

But for now, alcohol is a coping mechanism.

Will her Deal ever Break?

One of the people who has an office near me is a foul-mouthed, lazy, rude, piece of trash.

That's putting it kindly.

Her latest boyfriend is a drug dealer, "which is not a deal breaker," she has been explaining on the phone to her buddies (when she is supposed to be working).

How long can her derailed train keep going?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another Baby on the Way

One of the nastiest nurses confronted me about telling people she was pregnant.  She is new, yet already confident in her behavior.

This atmosphere of confrontations and accusations and severe attitudes is what makes me hate this place.

I had heard she was pregnant from several people.  I had nothing to add to the story.  She's a big woman who wears loose-fitting clothing.  Honestly, she looks no different.  Pregnancy rumors are quite popular here and I pay them little mind.  I was happy to think that she might be missing for a few months on a maternity leave.  But for now, I had to deflect her wrath.

"I do not appreciate people talking about me," she lectured.

"Are you pregnant or not?" I asked.

"How is that any of your business?" she snapped.

"It's not, you're right.  That is a rumor which I chose not to believe because you didn't tell me yourself.  I would have told you 'congratulations' if you told me you were pregnant, but I guess not," I said.

"Why does everyone want to know?" she snapped again.

"Because babies make people happy," I explained, as if this was all innocent.  "In this hospital, they reserve a big conference room and throw extravagant baby showers, fully catered, with everyone chipping in for a big gift, plus a gift card to Babies R Us, while still bringing individual gifts.  It's quite an event.  New moms especially love that a baby shower at this hospital gets them everything on their registry.  The shower in the spring required two vans to get all the stuff out of the conference room and to that nurse's house," I continued.

This is true.  Some make out better than others, but overall, baby showers are given often and well.

She is very materialistic and the thought of a lavish shower seemed to calm her.

"But if you don't want people knowing you are pregnant and you don't want them talking about you, then nobody will be comfortable holding the celebration for you.  It's up to you," I said as I walked away.

"I would get a shower?" she asked.

"Only if you were pregnant and you wanted people to celebrate, which doesn't seem to be the case," I said and continued to walk.

"I am pregnant!" she called out.

"Congratulations!" I called back.

I wonder if she is lying.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

When Quitting is an Option

One of the nurses quit.  She just received her full licensing as a nurse practitioner and this hospital has no openings.  "I went back to school so I wouldn't have to work in a place like this," she explained about not being upset that the hospital did not offer her a new position.

She said that I should go back to school to become a nurse practitioner.  I said I didn't want to acquire more debt and at this point in my career, the anticipated financial pay out is not worth it.  She is much younger and has years to work at the higher salary to recoup the money she spent to become a nurse practitioner, over $50,000 for the Master's Degree, not the doctorate.  She doesn't even have a position yet.  She's going to subsist on her husband's salary until she finds work.  This is not an option for me.

She said that this place is an insult to intelligent nurses because we babysit the support staff and waste time defending ourselves instead of doing actual nursing tasks.  "How many more times are you going to get called to the office and told that an orderly doesn't like the tone your voice reached after telling him ten times to put down his cell phone and assist a patient?"

She's right.  But jobs are not easy to come by.  I've thought about relocating.  Maybe people are nicer in a different area of the planet.

May she find success and happiness on her next path.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Weight of Words

A nursing assistant appeared in my office.  "Can I weigh myself?" she asked.

"You can do whatever you want," I replied.

She left.  A few minutes later, she returned.  "Can you help me?"

"Help you what?"

"Use the scale," she answered.

"It's the same scale used throughout the hospital," I answered.

"Well, I don't know how to use it," she answered.

"When we worked together on the wards, you used to weigh patients on your own," I said.

She didn't answer.  This explains some wild weight losses and gains that exasperated clinicians.

We walked down to the scale.  She placed one foot, spilling out of the back of its clog, onto the scale.  "Both feet need to be on the scale," I instructed.  [And yes, clogs and open-back shoes are prohibited footwear.]

"I can't fit both and still be comfortable," she snarked.

"The weight is not accurate unless you are fully on the scale," I insisted.  Both clogs and their overflowing heels made it onto the scale.

She weighs more than two of me.

"Is that overweight?" she asked.

Now, I could have been all cushy and non-confrontational.  But I wasn't feeling it.  I was simple and direct.  "Yes," I answered.

"I am not overweight!" she snapped.  "I like the way I look.  My man likes the way I look."

"Good for you.  I'm going back to work.  Bye," I said and started to walk away.

"Why did you say I'm overweight?" she yelled.

"It's a mathematical computation based on your height.  The chart is right here."  I pointed to the Body Mass Index chart, originally in color, but this was a gray copy.

"Your math does not apply to me, okay?  I am SPECIAL.  I am UNIQUE.  I have my own set of rules for my own life, got it?"  She sauntered away, mumbling to herself.

Her perceived uniqueness is not unique to her.  The rules of the workplace do not apply to the workers.

I don't know if she wanted to know her actual weight or she just wanted to pick a fight with me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Balancing Sleep and Work

I was never a morning person.  I get a second wind of energy around 10 o'clock at night.  If I'm not in bed by nightfall, once the later hours roll around, I am wide awake.

This is one of the reasons why I tried working night shift.  As it turns out, sitting around at home and doing what I want all night is not the same as working under florescent lights with overactive patients who have no idea that it's time to sleep.  Plus, people who have never worked overnight do not understand how obnoxious they are when they remark, "Gee, it must be great to be off all day."

Evening shift seemed ideal.  But I would not go to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning, then wake up just before I had to be at work, with little time to run errands or make phonecalls.  When the shift ended, all the stores and businesses were closed for the day and most normal people were already in bed.  Anything I did during the day, before work, had that ticking clock hanging over my head.

Having to work at 7 in the morning is not easy.  But at least I'm done at 3:30.  When I am off, I notice neighbors leaving for work at 8 or 9, only to get back home at 6 or 7, or even later.  An entire day gone just to work.

I used to be able to take a quick nap after work.  No more.  I'm exhausted, yet I cannot sleep.  And I'm too drained to do anything else.

This place is not ideal for a lot of reasons, but at least the hours aren't too bad.  I would rather be independently wealthy, but this is not much of a time commitment compared to other jobs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Work at the Asylum

Same old stuff.

People tell me that I have the best stories about my work.  My place of employment is mentally draining and so irritating, but it is not mundane.  It's funny if you look past the outright rudeness and sabotage.  My writing will hopefully be more on the light side and not dismal-sounding.

After so many years at the same place, I've noticed the patterns.  Someone does or says something ridiculous and gets all worked up about Nothing.

Goal:  Take a step back, filter it all, and present the humorous parts.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Command Voices

This cartoon was meant to be funny, but I think it is a good depiction of auditory hallucinations or hearing command voices.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Violence in Healthcare

I have been covering the floor more lately.  Summer vacations or the inability of anyone to properly staff the place.

The psych wards are no where as demanding as other floors, but they do require more standing and running around than my usual office setting.  A physical toll is taken on my already fatigued body.

Plus, I fear that any oversight or error, no matter how tiny or inconsequential or non-existent, will be used to persecute me.

My latest assignment really scared me.  A patient beat another patient because of a delusion, that the victim patient is dating me.  The beaten patient had to be transferred out while I spent the rest of the shift avoiding the attacker and his non-stop threats to give me "some of what I deserve."  Not only was he delusional about the affair, but also about his role as the physical enforcer of a perceived wrongdoing.

This is not the first time that someone else was attacked in lieu of me.

A while back a patient punched an orderly in his face so hard that he smashed into the wall for a second impact.  With the psychiatrist, I listened to the patient's explanation and grew increasingly fearful:  She attacked the orderly because I wanted her assassinated and hired him to do the deed.  The psychiatrist asked if she was planning on attacking me.  The patient replied that she would continue to "extinguish" the other assassins I had already lined up until they were all dead and then she would have only me to kill.

This is the really scary part of my job.  You never know what is going on in someone else's mind.  Most of the patients are actually not violent and are too disorganized to carry out any plan.  But there are a handful who misinterpret reality and then physically defend themselves against a threat that doesn't actually exist- and they know how to land a punch.

I'm especially at risk because I am floated to different floors based on the needs of that day's short staffing, so I am not familiar with the patients and they are suspicious of the new person.  Coworkers don't care for me or are openly hostile to me, indicating to would-be aggressors that I make an easy target.

Employees who are attacked get a raw deal.  They have to use their own paid time off if they need to be out from work for physical or emotional reasons.  The health insurance doesn't cover the medical treatment because it was work-related, but the employee health office usually plays down the injuries and clears the person to return to work immediately, so there is no worker's compensation benefit.  People who protest are investigated and blamed for the incident for not reporting the patient's escalating behavior or for injuring the patient while trying to defend against the attack.

You can press criminal charges, but I have not heard of any case that went anywhere.  The accused is already mentally defective by way of being court-ordered to involuntary psychiatric custodial care.  The psychiatrist's notes about the incident include excusing words such as "delusional," "irrational," and "responding to internal stimuli."

It's a dangerous setting with staff that are not trained to handle physical aggression and a system that discards injured nurses.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Two weeks to go and I still have no formal invitation to the wedding of a former coworker.  Am I off the hook?

When she called me in May and invited me to her wedding, I was surprised because we are not close.

She emailed a "Save the Date" picture of her beaming face and the frowning groom and specified that the event was formal.  Ladies are to wear floor-length gowns and men tuxedos.

Not going would be best for me because I will be very uncomfortable there.  The other email recipients included a bunch of people from work who are downright nasty to me.  They might behave themselves at a wedding, but that would show what weak characters they have, severely modifying their behavior based on the situation and not on an internal moral guide.

Plus, money is tight and is better spent on my own bills than thrown away at a wedding for someone I barely know.

Calling the bride to tell her that my invitation never arrived could prompt her to hastily mail one, putting me back on the hook.  If she sent me an invitation and it got lost in the mail, she would call me to find out why she hasn't heard from me, right?  So no invitation and no phonecall indicate that I was cut from the guest list, which is fine by me.

Next time I must remember to never answer the phone when someone calls.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sorry, Not Sorry

“I defended you!” the union rep said to me at the most recent union meeting.  Out of the blue.

Defending me is her job as a union rep.  But in her role as hospital employee, her job is to screw me over whenever she can.  I think this is a conflict of interest, but nobody else seems to mind.

“Defended me against what?” I inquired, cautiously.

“Against Celia’s emails,” the rep proudly declared.

“What emails?”

“Well, it doesn’t really concern you,” the rep answered.

“If you say that you had to defend me against them, then it concerns me,” I said.  “Please forward all of those emails to me.”

“No,” she sneered.  “I just told you it doesn’t concern you.  Celia is just being spiteful.  She makes more money than I do and she’s still complaining.”

I mentioned the emails to my immediate supervisor.

“Oh yes!” she replied.  “I defended you.”

Her defending me was also unheard of.  And still is.

She said she could not forward me the emails.  Instead, she read me what she wrote, which included gems such as, “Enid does whatever she wants and I have no control over her” and “I watch in horror while she runs from task to task and never know what she is going to do next.”

“How is that defending me?” I asked.

She paused, then replied, “Well, I guess this is really defending me, but I had to write something.”

“Neither one of us look good in your reply,” I told her.  “And everyone’s refusal to involve me in resolving this issue, when I am supposedly the problem, shows that your goal is to talk about me behind my back and not to solve any problem.”

The next day I went to see the director of the hospital.  He’s a friendly man, but I can’t trust anyone.  I asked him to forward the emails to me.

“They don’t concern you,” he answered.  “It’s more of a problem with the process and not any one individual.”

“I’m not following you,” I tried.

“Celia was just venting,” he said.  “I’ll read you some of what she wrote:  When you cover the intake department, you don’t fill any beds.  Most recently, you did no work except the work she told you to do and you also covered two other departments at the same time instead of focusing on just her department.  Also, she wants your rate of pay lowered to the rate for a new graduate without a baccalaureate because you don’t do enough work.  But don’t worry.  We can’t do that because it’s against your union contract.”

This is so rotten of her.  “Let me explain the most recent time I covered her office.  The shift supervisor ‘forgot’ to tell me that I was covering that office until I returned from lunch.  I still had a doctor coming to do rounds, so I needed to finish with him before I could get up to Celia’s office.  Celia neglected to write that I inherited a jammed fax machine and had to spend an hour picking pieces of chewed paper out of the machine.  The rest of the day it slowly spit out her faxes from the past two days.  Her work was not important enough for her to get it out of the fax machine, but when she needed evidence against me, suddenly the faxes were very important.”

“You see,” the director said, “That is why it’s a problem with the process and not any of the individuals involved.”


“Well, the fax machine.  It should have been replaced last year.  And we have a new one ordered.  It just hasn’t arrived yet,” the director explained.

“Celia cited a problem with me not reviewing faxes and not with the fax machine itself.  Her requested resolution was not a new fax machine, but a reduction in my salary.  She complained that I covered other departments at the same time, but that was my assignment from her buddy, the nursing supervisor.  This is an unfounded attack against me cemented in writing,” I said.

“It’s clearly a personality and cultural conflict,” the director responded.  “So there is no reason for the hospital to take any action against either of you, so don’t worry about it.”

“Celia is the one writing to the entire hospital about my supposed work deficiencies.  This is not a fair fight.  She is the head of a department and the shift supervisor is her friend who sets me up and then supports Celia’s complaints.  I don’t care for either of them, but I do my job and keep my opinions out of hospital-wide email.  She needs to do the same.  To make this more even, you could tell Celia that she can’t let her work pile up all week, call out, and then blame me for not doing several days of her work in one hour.  And you can tell the shift supervisor that she needs to come to work on time, get off her phone, and make assignments at the beginning of the shift, not in the middle.”

I stared at him.

“That is not going to happen,” he said.

“I know,” I said.  “So we are done here.”  I left.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Holiday Schedule

Today worked out better than past Fridays before Memorial Day Monday.  Federal holidays on a Monday prompt a flurry of call-outs on the Friday before the weekend.

This does not make sense, at least not to me, in the nursing world because the usual work week is not Monday through Friday.  This is not a Three Day Weekend for any nurse or orderly at the hospital, so calling out on Friday does not make it a four-day weekend.

But the masses call out.  Technically this is not allowed, but there are no repercussions.

I prefer to have off myself, but not because I have travel plans.  (No money.)  The real reason is that I don't want to get pulled out of an office to work the floor with a nurse from Hell on a floor from Hell, which is where I usually end up.

My immediate supervisor scheduled herself off, so I could not be off.  Being the sole person to show up to cover multiple departments does not protect me from being reassigned to floor work.

On my way to work I envisioned being alone in the office without my supervisor and enjoying the peace.

She showed up to work anyway.  "Did you forget you have off?" I asked her. The day before I confirmed her day off with, "See you on Tuesday!  Enjoy your time off!"  She did not correct me yesterday.

Today, to explain her presence on her day off, a day that I could not take because she wanted off, she said, "I rescind."

I ended up not being pulled to work the floor, thank goodness.  But you see how she plays these games with the schedule?

Now to enjoy my weekend.