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Hospital Staffing Cuts - Pragmatic, Panic or Carefully Planned?
Date:5/1/2009

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the world sits on the brink of a pandemic flu outbreak, Minnesota's hospitals are attempting to reduce the ranks of personnel most skilled to address emergency health needs.

Minnesota Nurses Association, the union representing more than 20,000 Registered Nurses in 89 bargaining units across the state, has received demands from nine hospitals to reopen contracts regarding wages. In the metro area, more than 100 MNA members have been laid off from their jobs since December 2008. The economic situation sounds dire as employers raise concerns about rising uncompensated care, proposed state budget cuts and dips in census and investments.

"We're not buying it," said MNA President Linda Slattengren. "Yes, we are pushing back at a time when our family and friends have all suffered from layoffs in this economic downturn. Yes, we are saying no to these demands from our employers."

Why? Call nurses cautious - skeptics perhaps. As 24/7 bedside providers, nurses know patient census fluctuates, sometimes wildly, as in the case of a pandemic. The hospital industry has not proven their case to MNA members, who express doubts because hospital administrative judgment has proven to be, all too often, less than stellar when it comes to the safety of patients in our care.

"North Memorial Hospital, where I work, enjoyed a nearly $179 million net profit over the last six years," said Pam Scott, RN. "But due to decisions like purchasing NowCare for $3 million in 2008 and reporting a $4 million loss in the latest financial statement, we have our doubts about the wisdom of administrative choices. My question: Isn't the purpose of reserves to accommodate more unexpected circumstances, such as economic pressures?"

The medical arms race is alive and well in Minnesota, as hospitals have rushed to compete with each other by providing the latest g
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SOURCE Minnesota Nurses Association
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