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Visitors, patients worry about care level



Published: Wed, May 2, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Visitors shared the staffing concerns expressed by the striking nurses.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Visitors to Forum Health Northside Medical Center said Tuesday they are concerned about the quality of care patients will get during a nurses strike.

"To bring them in here to take the place of someone who's on the job every day, familiar with the system and procedures of the hospital, there's definitely a concern there,'' Tom Berle of Bath said of the strike replacement workers.

"They're in a strange environment and strange living conditions," said Berle, who had just visited a 47-year-old patient Tuesday.

"I think they're justified," he said of those on strike. "Mandatory overtime -- I think that's a real concern. When you have people working long hours, long shifts, it takes them away from their families. It detracts from the quality of their life," he added.

"I don't think that anyone should be forced to work extended shifts. The 12-, 14-, 16-hour shifts they're talking about here, I think that's a large burden to bear. And the quality of care probably suffers a little bit from people who are extended beyond what normal working conditions should be," he said.

"The hospital should negotiate in good faith with the union. I realize that there's a shortage of nurses," he said.

Patient is scared: "It's confusing and scary because there's not enough staff," said Christine Busse of Petersburg, who had visited a friend and left the hospital shortly after the strike began.

"She just had a baby, but she wants out because she's scared, too. She's scared of her care because of the nurses being on strike. She's afraid she won't get the care she needs," Busse said of her friend, who underwent a Caesarean section.

"They're so short-staffed I think it's horrible," said Steve Judin of Poland, who had just visited a close friend suffering from cancer. Judin also said he was concerned about patient care during the strike. "I think that's going to have a big effect on the patients," he said.

"They were taking care of things, but I think they're having a rough time," he said based on his observations of the hospital as the strike began. "They should settle and start taking care of their staff a little better," Judin said.

How it was done: Berle noticed that hospital officials waited until all the striking nurses punched out before bringing onto the patient floors the strike replacement nurses, who had been bused there from Holiday Inn MetroPlex.

He also noticed an abundance of physicians on the patient floors during the midafternoon transition.




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