VA Nurses want more staffing

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LA JOLLA, Calif – A group of San Diego nurses is putting a new perspective on the scrutiny facing the Veterans Affairs system.

“No more stalling, save care now. No more stalling, let the nurses vote,” chanted a crowd of nurses in front of the VA medical center in La Jolla on Wednesday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 6.22.41 PM“We need staff,” said Debra Rice, a VA nurse.

The VA has been under fire for service delays that have resulted in patient deaths at other locations in the hospital system.

This time, the nurses say poor communication and staffing are their biggest problems.

“In the past we would see maybe 85 patients during the day and now we are seeing over 125, 150 per day,” said John Lallo, an ER nurse.

The emergency unit of the hospital is in the worst shape, according to the nurses.

“I know spinal cord injury but as an ER nurse I don’t know the specifics those nurses know but the mentality by the administration here is that a nurse, is a nurse,” said Rice who argues that many of the nurses working are temporary employees without very good training. “Anybody who has ever hired a temporary help including nurses knows that they are not as dedicated like your staff is. We have had nurses leave in the middle of the shift.”

In recent months VA hospitals throughout the country have been hit with government audits regarding long wait times, including here in San Diego County.

To deal with the issue, the VA plans to open several news clinics.

“Those will help see patients with lower acuities. I don’t feel that our veterans are being neglected health wise but they deserve better,” said Lallo.

To do better, the nurses are asking for a union and better communication.

“How can you lead from the top if you have never met with us? Everybody doesn’t want to talk about the big purple elephant in the room. We want the elephant to be known. We’ve got problems, we need help,” said Rice.

 

3 comments

  • VA Nurse Spouse

    As a husband of a La Jolla VA Nurse, I can say they are severely understaffed. When my spouse has to call in sick due to our kids being sick, he/she has to worry about retaliation from not only upper management but from her fellow peers due to the significant increase in work load for the other nurses. Pay has not been increased in 4 years except for a 1% increase during that time.

    There are patients that are very disrespectful to the female nurses calling them by names that are sexual in nature. Upper management is aware of the sexual harassment that occurs from patients and there is currently no enforcement of any policies (if any) to prevent this from occurring.

    Also, when upper management knew of talks involving a union, the senior VA nurses that have close ties to upper management were "educating" other nurses on why a Union isn't necessary and was trying to fish out who the supporters of the union were. It is my assumption that she was fishing for potential Union supporters so that upper management can retaliate against the nurses.

    These nurses need a union ASAP. I'm normally not in support of unions but in this case, the nurses are worse off without their help and will be much better off (financially, mentally, and physically) with their help.

  • Mert C.

    Adding more staff will not solve the problem at the VA La Jolla Hospital. Nurses not doing their job or needed more training. Last April 2013, after 7 hours of waiting in so much pain (gall bladder stone) I was admitted at the ER room. Couple nurses assigned me to the treatment room without changing the linen so I laid down on fresh blood stained from the previous patient. I reported this incident. I was ordered to get cat-scan the nurse refused to push my wheel chair and my wife had pain with total knee replacement. When I got up to sit on the wheel chair I found out again I had fresh blood stained on my gown. Nurses replaced the linen never wipe and sanitize the bed.
    After my surgery I was taken to the recovery room. The nurse assigned to me (Filipina) was behind the counter and discussing her personal life to the other nurse. The nurse taking care the patient next to me was kindly enough assisted me giving ice and water.

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