I am SO ticked off!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I am SO mad! My mom got fired from her job this week. It's just insane. She's been at White County Medical Center for twelve years, and they fired her over something so ethically wrong it just makes me want to scream! Anyway, here's what happened.

On November 25, 2007 , after another New Life Center nursery nurse was floated to Station 3-South and was subsequently instructed to turn in her badge and go home, my mom was sent to that unit. Because of her lack of orientation to the unit, her unfamiliarity with the medical conditions and diagnoses of the patients on that unit and unfamiliarity with the medications which would typically be prescribed for these types of patients she informed the charge nurse that she did not feel comfortable with the assignments of doing assessments and giving medications, but that she would gladly do anything else she could to assist in caring for these patients.

She believes in part because of the frustration already experienced by these nurses in dealing with the previous New Life Center nurse, no consideration was given as to what she might be able to do to help and she was told to call the House Supervisor.

She talked with Amanda Kiihnl, R.N., and informed her that she did not feel competent to do assessments and give medications. Amanda stated, “I understand”, and said she would call April Fulton, R.N.,(my mom's supervisor) and call mom back. Charlotte, the day shift supervisor, called mom back saying that she was to go home but not to turn in her badge. After reporting to the charge nurse that she had been instructed to go home, she left the unit.

My mother did not refuse to float. She arrived on the unit in a friendly, accommodating frame of mind. No one introduced themselves and no one offered a brief tour of the unit to familiarize her with the environment. When informed of what she was expected to do, she expressed her concern about her competency in assessing and medication administration. Since she refused to perform these tasks, no effort was made to consider how she might otherwise be able to assist. She was simply told to call the supervisor.

The Arkansas State Board of Nursing has addressed this issue in the Arkansas State Board of Nursing Rules and Regulation, Chapter 7, Section XV, number 6, stating that unprofessional conduct includes performing or attempting to perform nursing techniques and/or procedure in which the nurse is untrained by experience or education, and practicing without the required professional supervision." An elaboration of this rule was published in the ASBN Update publication of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing in July 2001, stating that "a nurse is accountable for informing a supervisor when an assignment includes nursing techniques or procedures for which she is not trained. One part of the training is an orientation to the unit and another part is the knowledge, skills and abilities to safely perform the assigned tasks."

Mom also called the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and spoke with Deborah Jones, who is the Assistant Director of Nursing Practice. After mom gave her a synopsis of the event that occurred and her work history, Deborah suggested reading the above rules and observed that as a Nursery nurse she should not be expected to perform assessments on these types of adult patients. Deborah did say that it would be appropriate for her to take off orders, receive orders from physicians, do vital signs, IVs on pediatric patients and take medical histories, etc.

As a nursery nurse, primarily assigned to well and sick baby nursery for the past 24 ½ years, Mom felt that she was personally and professionally unprepared to perform assessments on adult post-operative and orthopedic patients. She was also concerned that she may, because of her lack of knowledge in this area, put a patient, her hospital and herself at risk by overlooking a potential complication, therefore causing harm to the patient, a possible lawsuit and loss of her license.

After being sent home, my mom agonized for the next two days over what was going to happen to her job, then they called her in. They never gave her a chance to voice her side of the story, they just fired her for "gross insubordination". The administrator who fired her wouldn't even listen to her side of the story. The decision to fire her was already made before she ever arrived for the meeting. That's what makes me the maddest. That just SUCKS.

We thought it would be over once they fired her, but NO... That has not been the case. Mom has applied at several hospitals within a 60 mile radius of Searcy, and more than one has told her that they could not hire her because of a "bad report" from White County Medical Center. We have heard all kinds of rumors about mom "abandoning her patients" (which isn't true because she never took the patients in question), about her "causing a scene at the nursing station" (if you know my mom, you know that isn't true) and everything else you can imagine. It has really put a shadow on her reputation as an excellent nurse, and even though most people know the rumors aren't true, there are always the uninformed who believe what they hear and then embellish upon that.

The bright side of all this is the support that my mom has received from her fellow nurses and the doctors here in town. More than one physician has stopped her when she's been out and about to tell her how sorry they are that WCMC has treated her this way. One of the female pediatricians has been especially vocal about her displeasure over mom's firing. Several of the nurses on her floor have written her notes and sent her cards. From the way it looks, everyone loved her and thought she brought a certain amount of "stability" to the night shift.

I hope this will all be cleared up soon, but until then, I know we'll all make it through. Mom is tougher than they think, and she'll come through this smelling like a rose in the end...