Sunday, September 24, 2017

Refrigerator Woes

One of my tasks is to examine all of the refrigerators on the wards.

There are several because, in healthcare, you cannot combine certain items.

Most wards have one refrigerator for staff food, another for patient food, one for medications, and one for specimens awaiting pick up.

I check for comingling of items and that everything is labeled with a current expiration date.

You may have guessed by now that these rules are never followed.

At first, I was merely supposed to check each refrigerator, note the problems on a special form, and submit my findings to the Powers That Be. One day, the nursing director stopped me and said, "You know, I've been meaning to ask you. All these problems you find, you fix them, right?"

"No," I answered. "As explained to me, my role is to forward the completed form to supervisors, including you. I was told by you and others that I am not to confront anyone about any problems I find."

"Oh," she said and paused. "I thought you were supposed to be fixing all these problems. Well, I get the part about you not telling people what to do, but there are ways you could tell them without being bossy. Work on that. Try being nicer to people and they will do what you want. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Ever hear that?"

I didn't bother to try to explain to her why this will not work with this population. If they wanted me to go around and fix problems, that should have been the assignment. Not "inspecting" and completing a form.

At the next inspection, my strategy was to show the offending items to the nurse in charge and leave it up to her what to do. The reactions varied.

1- "Since when were you put in charge? I don't have to do a thing you say."
2- "Why bother? You write me up all the time and I have nothing to do with anything in any refrigerator."
3- "If you are so concerned, fix it yourself. Isn't that your job? To fix the stuff in the fridges?"

I told my immediate supervisor. She maintained, "You are not there to fix their mistakes." But she added, "You could educate them about the rules. Print out copies of the policy and give it to them."

No. There is an education department.  Those nurses get paid a lot more than I do. The rules are taped to the door of every fridge. They toss medications wherever is convenient and store their lunch in the fridge closest to their workstation.

I feel caught in the middle, as if I will be blamed if the hospital is cited for a refrigerator violation because I was supposed to clean up behind irresponsible people.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

That Didn't Go as Planned

I didn’t want my wage reduction to go unchallenged.  (Unlike other nurses, I was informed that I would no longer receive additional money to cover certain higher paying departments.)

Receiving less money interferes with my mantra I repeat to myself all day as one bad thing after another happens:
"I work here for the paycheck and health insurance.  Nothing else."

I decided against going to my union for three reasons.

1-      They might already know.  Management may have asked for and received their blessing.  The joke would be on me.

2-      The union would side with the hospital, not me.  They have never “won” a dispute for me.  The union acts more as a mediator who leans in the hospital's favor instead of being my advocate.

3-      When other nurses start getting their wages reduced and complain to the union, the hospital can cite me as a bonafide case of why this is acceptable.  If the union knows about (and approved) my wage reduction, it will make it difficult to advocate for their favorite children.  If the union does not know that my wages were reduced, they will get angry at me for not telling them and inform me that I put them in a position that makes it difficult to argue to restore salaries of other nurses.  Good.

I emailed the director of the hospital to have in writing why my salary was being reduced.

He answered me.  It was nonsense logic.  He wrote that my salary was actually raised a few years back when I moved from the floor into an office, so that negates any requirement for the hospital to pay me extra for covering other departments; that extra money is for ward nurses only when they are floated to cover an office.

I responded that my salary was not raised and that I am still classified as a ward nurse and that I work on the floor whenever told to do so.

He responded that I am “considered management,” so I cannot have anything other than my base salary, but since I consider myself a ward nurse, I will be assigned a ward and have to work holidays and swing shifts.

As if I were being punished for objecting to my salary being decreased.

I responded that I am not considered management by anyone.  I still report to the shift supervisor like the rest of the ward nurses.  And I am not paid according to the salary rubric for upper level nurses in the union contract.

He wrote back that he would look into it.

It would be funny if they tried to cheat me out of a few extra dollars and ended up having to pay me thousands for the years that I’ve been mainly an office nurse, but paid as a ward nurse.

This will not happen.

I’m glad that I objected to getting screwed over; however, it may have blown up in my face.  At first I was upset that I made matters worse.  But then I read a blog post by the Maverick Traveler:

So I failed in making my case for not reducing my salary.  Just keep going.  In the future I may get better at salary negotiations.

Monday, September 4, 2017

And Just Like That . . .

I feel like a helpless idiot.

For years I have covered a department within the hospital a few days per month on average.  Any nurse when covering this department gets a few dollars extra per hour.

The Director of Nursing called me into her office and told me that someone in payroll reviewed me and that I would no longer be receiving the extra money because "it's your job and you shouldn't get paid extra to do your job."

"Just me, or all the nurses who cover?" I asked.

"Just you," the Director said.

"Since when did it become my job, especially since I have had no raise to bring me anywhere near what that department pays its regular nurses?" I tried.

"Listen," she said, "I know you are mad.  But there were emails.  The director of the hospital agrees, as does your union."

Of course my union was consulted and agreed to screw me over.  "Take money away from Nurse Enid?  Wonderful!  Where do we sign?" was probably their reaction.

"I never got any emails about this," I said.

"Not you.  Other people emailed and made this decision," she explained.

"Could I have copies for my grievance?" I asked.

She didn't say anything.

"I'm grieving this.  You can't take money away from me, especially when you're not doing it to anyone else," I told her.

I am reminded of the clerk who got a bad annual review, which would result in no merit raise.  She ranted and complained and filed grievances until the review was amended so she would get a raise.  Years later, another nurse manager unknowingly gave her a bad annual review.  The supervisor reversed it immediately.

This is what makes me upset.  I do a good job.  This clerk did not.  I'm not asking for anything extra.  I'm asking to keep the money I'm already earning.  The hospital would not do this to that clerk because she would harass them until they reversed their decision.

I guess I have to do the same.

When others hear about this, which they always do, I will look like more of a pushover.  "They could never do that to me" will be said to me by people I barely know.