More amazing “Letters to the Editor” in support of MNA’s Sanford Bemidji Nurses

8 Sep

More amazing “Letters to the Editor” voicing support for MNA’s Sanford Bemidji Nurses continue to be published in The Bemidji Pioneer. Here’s a sampling of the latest:

Don’t you love it when a mega-business like Sanford Medical takes out a full-page ad to play “I’m the victim?” This message is a public relations jewel.

It explains the greatness of Sanford Medical, how much they care and how hard they have worked to negotiate a mutually acceptable contract with the nurses.

The ad then proceeds to accuse the nurses of not negotiating in good faith and being stooges of the state nurses association. The ad continues with accusations that the nurses are lying and using scare tactics to patients or potential patients. Don’t forget – these same nurses are wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors of all of us.

Reading the last paragraph of the ad reveals the true scare tactic. Strike and be replaced!

David Skeim


I have been in and out of the hospital this last month. Observing the nursing staff on the second floor and in ICU, I saw caring, compassionate staff. They all made time to reassure and explain things to me. They also worked at a fast pace with grace and no complaining. They had no down time and ran from crisis to crisis. If I were an employee, I would go home crying, too. The stress was obvious.

Sanford has an excellent staff and they need to be treated accordingly with appropriate pay, benefits and livable schedule.

Pat Berglund


I have been employed at our hospital in Bemidji for over 30 years working at the bedside. Understaffing is a nationwide concern and our nurses have been struggling for years. Three years ago when we negotiated, nursing formally expressed their staffing concerns and management agreed to form a committee to work on this. The issues were never resolved. The tentative agreement that management is referring to is again a committee to work on the problems.

It was part of the offer presented to the Minnesota Nurses Association nurses when we voted, and it was overwhelmingly rejected.

We did have several other issues involving our pension, paid-time-off time and insurance that are big concerns, too. But in a survey done before negotiations began, the nurses’ concerns were with safe staffing.

Sanford is new to our community. The problems were there when they came. We are hopeful that Sanford will be good for our community.

We are proud to be nurses. Not ashamed when we leave at the end of our shift feeling we have been unable to provide safe, adequate care for our patients. There is no one else to speak up for our patients – patients everywhere. Nurses nationwide, not just locally, are speaking out for safe staffing. Safe staffing is about using acuity levels, not just a grid to determine the number of nurses needed to provide care for that shift.

Again, we ask Sanford to be a progressive leader. Help us provide safe care and give us a fair contract.

Mary Olson


I am a retired senior citizen who spends four months in the Bemidji area at a lake cottage. I am appalled at the recent one-page advertisement/dissertation by Paul Hanson, president of Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. President Hanson’s defense of Sanford’s commitment to quality health scares me.

Has Mr. Hanson ever had a patient push a call button in the middle of the night? Who does he think comes to the aid of patients who have had urinary or fecal problems or pain problems in the middle of the night? It’s the nurse. It’s the nurse who always has a smile. It’s the nurse who says, “It’s OK. I’ll clean it up.” It’s the nurse who says, “Call me again if the pain doesn’t go away.”

I firmly believe the nurses in Bemidji deserve better than what Sanford has offered. I firmly believe nurses are not getting the extra staff that is needed. I firmly believe Sanford is trying to eliminate a defined pension, which our great Bemidji nurses have earned by their hard and tireless work in the middle of the night and long days. In my 70-plus years, I have never seen management bring care to my bedside. I have never seen management change sheets on my bed. I have never seen management go without pay increases, bonuses or severance packages.

As I see and read it, Sanford Bemidji bases its justification for limiting of staff or giving decent pay (including defined pension) to its nurse employees on a “benefit program that is competitive, sustainable, and affordable.”

Sanford Bemidji, open your eyes to what makes your hospital important. It’s your nurses – not your self-directed, one-page dissertations, or spending millions on hockey rinks or wellness centers. Write about the good nurses you have. Write about how you back them up. Don’t be short sighted. Try spending your money where it is needed – on staff. To your amazement, you may even find this “sustainable and affordable.”

Vince Thoma
Fergus Fall, Minn.


I am responding to the recent letter in the paper from the president of Sanford Health. I am a nurse who works at the hospital in Bemidji and am a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Staffing at the hospital is not OK. Nurses are going home crying after their shifts due to the stress from poor staffing. If management is aware of this and says staffing is OK, then something is seriously wrong. Perhaps staffing levels at the hospital are at a national level, but as many of you know, national standards aren’t always good enough. It is not OK for nurses to go home crying from being overworked. The patients of Bemidji deserve more nurse time at their bedside. It has been mentioned by Sanford that staffing has been addressed as negotiations. Yes, it was discussed but the “agreement” reached does not represent any type of actual improvement in staffing.

The nurses of Bemidji are deeply committed to serving the community. So is Sanford; however, Sanford management (who have office jobs) think staffing is OK. The nurses who work on the floor with the patients every day, every hour are saying they need more staff. You decide. The nurses need your support.

Sanford will bring many new things to Bemidji. I also know they have millions of dollars to spend as seen in the $2 million spent to name the hockey arena and the $200 million-plus to spend on the proposed new hospital in Fargo, N.D. They can afford a few more nurses on each shift at the hospital.

Together with the community, the nurses and Sanford we will do great things. I would like nothing more than for Sanford and the MNA negotiating team to come to an agreement soon.

However, if we 236 (or so) nurses need to strike in order for Sanford to see that we really do need more nurses on each shift to take care of you, we will. We feel that passionately about it.

Jacqueline M. Gibbons RN, BSN

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