Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Oct. 22

Nurse turns down late night hours, low pay

I need to respond to your recent article regarding the nursing shortage at Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

I have been a nurse for 17 years, and I have worked long and hard – 12 years in the clinical hospital setting alone – including tough medical-surgical floors, with and without having to teach and work with residents, diabetic floors/diabetic instruction, step-down telemetry floors, oncology with chemotherapy infusions and the emergency room.

I have been a staff nurse, with patient loads that were dangerous and counterproductive to good, sound patient care. I have been a charge nurse – with or without patients to care for. I have been a team nurse, a total patient nurse and a primary nurse. I have watched nursing and hospital administrations go round and round in amnesiac circles. I have coordinated home IV infusion with home health nursing all over the country and have become an IV specialist to ensure proper and safe home IV therapy for sick, discharged patients. I am loaded with experience.

Bottom line, I would be an asset to YRMC and to the people of Prescott, but speaking as an overworked female, single mother and nurse (which the majority of nurses are), I refuse to commit to any hospital, suffering but capable as they say they are, to $15 an hour with differential, working the only available shifts they have, which is always the night shift.

Then, it's every other weekend and every other holiday. Been there, done that … a long time ago. I made $15 an hour in 1988. The rules never change – they have tried to make more flexible situations with different pay scales, but without a staff position, how can any single mother rely on being able to work a schedule she can handle to fit into her other responsibilities, then be overstaffed with no pay. Night shifts are nothing but difficult, and that's what the want-ads are offering.

People come to the hospital mainly for nursing care. I would venture an educated guess that at least 75 percent of the money patient hospitalizations generate comes from nursing care, and I would bet that not even 20 percent comes back to nursing. We know this, so tell the story as it is. What should have happened, if insurance benefits would have allowed for the elderly patient needing to return for IV antibiotics in the ER, was for the doctor to call in home health and have IV therapy in the home. I would hope that insurance was the culprit, not ignorance.

Reality – the pay in Prescott and at YRMC is substandard regardless of Phoenix standards, which I don't believe. The nursing shortage is real, but not because women don't care – we're just tired of making substandard wages for long, tough hours. It might be a thought for hospitals to lift/change the positioned and float requirements and offer more day shifts and to pay the nursing staff properly, especially those with experience.

Is this rocket science? Make it flexible, make it lucrative. Making women come back to nursing equals no nursing shortage equals better reputation and more importantly – better patient care. If doctors can make six-figure salaries, if execs can make even more, if builders and real estate brokers can make a fortune just by the environment in which we are privileged to live, then nurses, who give more than most, should make their due.

Don't insult experienced nurses with these wages – it's time you share the wealth and the whole truth. And don't insult the public with a pat answer of "the nursing shortage."

(An IV specialist, Donna Butler has lived in Prescott since October 1999).

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