Changes in staffing raise nurses' concern, draw Unfair Labor Practice charge against Lapeer Regional Medical Center

Aug. 24, 2010, LAPEER - Lapeer Regional Medical Center (LRMC) has made a poor decision. Recently, LRMC decided to change their nurse-to-patient staffing guidelines but chose to deliberately ignore the nurses who are responsible for those patients. Represented by the Michigan Nurses Association, the LRMC nurses union was invited to an initial meeting to discuss the guidelines, but had no input in the final decisions, which LRMC has implemented.

"Lapeer Regional Medical Center came to MNA and told us they were going to change their staffing guidelines," said Anita Szczepanski, MNA Labor Attorney. "However, our contract not only requires us to meet, which we have, but requires us to agree to any modifications of the staffing guidelines. There is no evidence that Lapeer intends to let the nurses have any say in their ability to present quality and safe patient care. This is in defiance of the National Labor Relations Act, and we have filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board charging Lapeer with violations of failing to bargain in good faith."

Cheryl Weston, RN, President of the Lapeer RN Staff Council stated: "Every nurse should have enough time with their patients to provide quality care. Patient needs have become more complex than ever, and nurses are being forced to care for more patients. When LRMC makes decisions to limit that time without professional nursing input, it puts patients and nurses at risk. Research proves that the number of patients a nurse cares for is directly correlated to patient mortality. As patient advocates, nurses must have a strong say in what happens with staffing guidelines, because decisions that are made will affect us professionally, but most importantly affect patient safety."

"Every time a hospital decides to revise its standard on how many nurses are needed for each floor, safe patient care is at risk," said John Karebian, MNA Executive Director. "Today's hospitals focus on the financial bottom line instead of the patient. Numerous studies have shown that better nurse staffing results in safer patient care, yet hospitals continue to decimate their nurse-to-patient ratio, inevitably hurting the people they've pledged to care for. LRMC is choosing to ignore the nurses who provide their bedside care. That is a ridiculous decision, and we will not stand by and let them proceed to make arbitrary changes in their staffing guidelines without their union's input."