An Op/Ed from Ely Nurses to their Community

15 Jun

We the MNA nurses of Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital would like to let the public know our reasoning behind the recently announced strike vote you have been hearing about.

We feel we have bargained in good faith, moving proposals forward and rescinding and decreasing some of our proposals in an effort to reach an agreement. In response to our efforts, hospital executives gave us a “last, best and final” offer that offered only concessions from nurses in wages, insurance and benefits.

Nurses are not asking for significant financial gains. At the same time, we recognize the value of our contributions to the day-to-day operation of the hospital in meeting our patients’ needs and safety, and therefore feel justified in rejecting the hospitals’ offer of only concessions to our present insurance, wage, and benefit package.  We are ESSENTIAL employees to the operation and delivery of health care. We feel we deserve to be paid and have benefits comparable to other nurses or at the very least to our present status and believe the hospital budget should reflect that value and need.

We understand the financial stress in the industry and the unforeseen future governmental changes that can occur to healthcare. But it is up to the people of the State of Minnesota and the country at large to support affordable healthcare for all and elect those who are willing to address the healthcare needs of their constituents rather than the needs of corporate America, the wealthy and elected officials who are willing to take away our most basic human health prevention and assistance. And it is up to these same people to demand quality and safe patient care for themselves.

Our nurses and other members of the Minnesota Nurses Association work diligently at the state and federal legislative levels to promote and enhance safe and fair healthcare for all. MNA nurses support healthcare for all and MNA nurses support our patients!

As nurses, we are your biggest advocates. We oversee and provide the care. We are the liaison between the doctor and you, our patients. We are trained to meet both your basic needs and your greatest needs. We are there when you are born, and we are there when you die. We have the technical expertise, skills and medical training necessary to quickly and correctly assess your condition. Sometimes we are even called upon to make the kind of snap decisions and recommendations that can be the difference between life and death.

We are passionate about nursing and we love what we do. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t last long in this arena of unexpected, unpredictable and oftentimes heartbreaking patient situations. We care for you, and we try to provide the best skills, knowledge and interventions possible to make your healthcare journey a positive experience. We are there not only for you, but for your family members as well.

Nurses participate in continuing education to ensure that we are always providing up to date, competent skills that meet each patient’s individual needs. We are there 24/7, often forced to stay another shift, take another call, and alternately we take unpaid “low need days” to help the hospital save money when our patient census is down.

We are the only group at the hospital that takes low need days when the census is low, resulting in lost work hours and reduced income to the approximate amount of five percent each year.  No other essential or non-essential employee loses work hours like this.  We are already taking concessions with fluctuating census putting safe patient care at risk with lower staffing.

We are also quite different from larger institutions in the fact that we must know and be able to respond to all patient situations rather then function in only one area of expertise like those in larger hospitals.  We do it all!

Not only do we try to negotiate a fair and just contract for the present RN staff, but we also look to the years ahead in providing an environment that encourages the recruitment and retention of top-notch nurses. That environment can’t exist if our nurses are among the lowest paid in Minnesota and if we continue to lose our benefits. Ely and the surrounding area deserve excellent healthcare providers just like any area in the state and country.

While we have authorized our bargaining team leaders to call for a strike, no strike date has been set. It remains our goal to avoid a strike entirely and negotiate a contract that protects both our patients and our profession.

We believe that an agreement can be reached, but not in an environment where hospital executives refuse to show any sort of meaningful give and take or compromise in their negotiations. Until that happens, nurses are left with no choice but to move in the direction of a strike.


MaryAnn Smith, Kathy Champa, Doreen Berrini, Robbie Childers, Prudy LaLone, Kim Csargo, Tom Pechek, Heidi Artisensi, Sue Maki, Katie Loisel, Chris Stupica, Cheryl Lossing, Dawn Anderson, Nicki Carlson, Phyllis Kamppi, Lynn Moser, Stephen Kamppi, Sue Pasmick, Devon Aldrich, Jill Houde, Tiffany Zemke, Diana Kallberg, Paula Hill, Cindy Chalmers

One Response to “An Op/Ed from Ely Nurses to their Community”

  1. Naomi English MPH, RN June 16, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Thank you, Ely nurses for your poignant description of the value that you, as nurses, provide your community! It touched my heart and made me proud to be a nurse. It seems to me that the best possible solution is for management to agree to really bargain with you. I work down at United Hospital in St. Paul and we’re well aware of what you’re going through. Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

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