Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Sick" leave

Ross from Nurse in Australia had a great post today on sick leave in winter.

This triggers my own post. Yes, for the southern hemisphere it's winter, and I'm sure the flu season is kicking them pretty hard.

Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are sunny and it's warm, and many people are on vacation.

Lately at my work we have been very short staffed. I mean VERY. Sometimes nights are 5-6 nurses short (rare but true) and most nights we're at least 2-3 short. We have roughly a 36 bed department with about 8-10 nurses working at night. Some of the staffing problem is casuals not picking up hours, but most of our casuals are working almost full time hours. Oftentimes it is people calling in "sick". Again we have limited support staff and RNs provide ALL patient care (bloodwork, IVs, catheters, vitals, monitoring, NGs, toileting-- everything).

Vacation is given by seniority, and unless you've been working for 5-10 years in our department, you MIGHT get a day or two off in the summer, other than that, you'll have to take vacation from Sept-Nov, or from Feb-April (excluding March break).

Some less-senior staff are taking advantage of using sick days and stat days as vacation when they get denied their time off. As far as I know the management has been noting it (what the official ramifications are, I don't know). Unfortunately, this leaves the rest of the staff working short, and morale has been sliding downhill rather quick.

I'm not one to take time off unless needed nor am I one to call in sick unless I'm truly sick. However it bothers me that workers who do go to work get screwed by having to work short-staffed.

Already we had to cut staff due to budget cuts, if they keep seeing us working short they may just think that we can always handle that ratio: We're barely keeping afloat and patient care is compromised. Even the docs think something needs to be changed.