One particularly notable gain is the hospital’s agreement to effectively end the practice of requiring nurses to work alternating night and day shifts, which significantly increases the danger of fatigue that can lead to medical errors and accidents. Under the pact, the hospital will post night only shifts, assuring the end of rotating shifts with all RNs able to count on consistent schedules.
Pay equity had been a substantial issue for RNs in a hospital where more than one-third of the nurses are new hires. Under the settlement agreement, all RNs will receive pay increases of up to 12.6 percent over the next four years, in addition to retention bonuses and other economic gains. That will go a long way, say nurses, in keeping experienced RNs at the bedside and recruiting new nurses to the hospital.
In other areas, the hospital agreed to:
- ensure that RNs can take uninterrupted meal breaks to remain fresh and alert,
- maintain lift equipment on every hospital floor so that patients can be safely moved, sharply reducing the threat of patient falls and accidents and debilitating nurse injuries, a major problem in healthcare that was profiled in an award winning NPR series earlier this year, and
-drop demands that the hospital be able to cut RN health coverage or pensions without the agreement of the nurses, an issue that has been a major battle with employers, including hospitals, across the country.