Views From Kennewick

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Talk about nursing shortages...we have two nurses out of the office. One resigned, the other had surgery and will be off work for 6 weeks. They hired a new nurse, but it'll be some time before she's through with orientation. Therefore, we're short handed.

At my Home Health agency, I work weekends and holidays, and I'm on-call Friday night through Monday morning.

Believe me, it's a good way to avoid office politics.

My boss called yesterday and asked if I'd pick up the two nurses' on-call nights. At the time, I politely declined.

Then I realized I really do need the paltry fee they pay me to be on-call. A whopping $2.50 per hour. Yippie Skippie! So, when my boss called about another issue this evening, I asked her if she found coverage. The other nurses are pretty spoiled now that I'm on board. They're not fond of being on-call overnight, then putting in a full day.

Hey, who can blame them? Certainly not me.

The boss had to schedule rotating coverage, as the nurses weren't jumping up to volunteer. So I said I'd be on call for the next 6 weeks. It's not that big a deal, usually.

But wait! There's more! Sometimes the phone goes berserk, with patients calling from anywhere within a 50 mile radius of the office. Most of the time, the problem can be triaged over the phone.

Admittedly, shamelessly, I am a delegating-triage-hair-on-fire wild woman.

There is nothing I dislike more than going out in the cold, in the snow, in the dark, and trying to find a patients home. Of course, whoever happens to call does not have a clearly marked address on their house--ever. This would be against "the rules."

"The Rules" patients use for the Home Health On-Call Nurse is:
1) Call anytime of the night, your RN never sleeps.
2) Call when you know how to take care of your problem
3) Call to change an appointment with the case-manager RN at
2:00 a.m.

and so on.

Honestly, our patients are a good bunch and I have them well trained.

If they really need me, I'll be there. If it's something that can wait, then it has to, because our corporate headquarters gripes and whines if perchance we make an "idiot visit." An idiot visit is one that could be handled by the case-manager RN during normal business hours.

You see, they have to pay me an extra $0.50 per hour if I go out when on-call.

Do we see a pattern here? Do we see why nurses leave the profession?

You betcha.


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