Nurses protest patient ratios and under-staffing, ask for a task force to fix

10/19/11 Janelle Irwin
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About 50 nurses rallied in front of Largo Medical Center Tuesday in hopes of persuading management to create a staffing task force. The initiative would give bedside nurses a better chance at improving care by lowering nurse to patient ratios.

Julia Scott is a nurse at Largo Medical Center who is concerned her voice isn’t being heard by hospital staff. She said many nurses have tried to implement measures that would foster better communication, but so far they have been unwilling to cooperate.

And surgical nurse Pat Brady said basically the same thing. She added, nurses should be an important part of decision making in hospitals.

But neither would comment on why a task force was needed. Several dozen people chanted in front of the hospital, but none would answer questions about what they thought needed to be done to improve patient care. Sheila Carter is a state union representative. She also organized the protest. She wouldn’t allow any one other than Scott and Brady to speak with reporters and also instructed them to only mention the task force.

After a little pushing Carter finally did allow one nurse to speak up. Kurt Busse wouldn’t say much and continually looked to Carter for guidance, but he did say many nurses are overwhelmed.

When asked about staffing and other work conditions, Pat Brady initially said she didn’t have any specifics to offer. But later, she agreed that the hospital could use a little more help.

Carter explained the lack of communication between protesters and reporters as being part of a process agreed upon by the hospital and union. She said three attempts were made to reach an agreement with hospital management and the protest was an effort to reach out to the public on the sole issue of establishing a staffing task force.

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