New head of state nurses group appeals to colleagues' desire to help
Warino will hang on to her job as the local union president until May.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Linda Warino plans to use her new position as president of the Ohio Nurses Association to bring former nurses back to their profession and attract new people to the ranks.
"If you are interested in and care about people, nursing is the perfect profession," said Warino, who was elected to a two-year term as president at the ONA convention in Akron in October.
"I want to remind those who have left the profession of why they became nurses in the first place. Those things haven't changed. I invite them to come back and help us make the changes that are necessary," she said.
For herself, Warino said, "I love ... being a staff nurse. I could have taken teaching or management paths, but it just isn't the same for me without the patient contact."
Background: Warino, a 1971 graduate of Ursuline High School in Youngstown, has been a nurse since receiving an associate degree in nursing from Youngstown State University in 1973 at age 19.
In 1993, she earned a bachelor of nursing degree from YSU.
She and her husband, Joseph, live on Leffingwell Road. They have three children: Joseph II, Charles and Lindsey.
She began her nursing career with Youngstown Hospital Association, which changed its name to Western Reserve Care System and then to Forum Health, where she still works.
For the first two years she was a medical/surgical nurse and the last 26 years has been a post-anesthesia care unit nurse. She worked 23 years at Southside Medical Center until it closed in 1996, then moved to Northside Medical Center.
She was drawn to recovery room nursing because it has the excitement of a critical care unit and the challenge of treating any situation. "You have to have the knack of quickly making patients comfortable, and that includes touching them," she said.
Got involved: She became interested in union activities some years ago when her employer was considering using emergency medical technicians and paramedics in the emergency room.
EMTs and paramedics have specific roles and skills, but they are not trained in the assessment skills needed in the emergency room, she said.
Warino continued her involvement in the Youngstown General Duty Nurses Association, eventually becoming its president, and also became active in ONA, where, among other things, she served on its board of directors and as first vice president, a term that will expire in May.
Conditions improved: She said working conditions have improved at Forum Health since the 81-day nurses strike that ended July 20. The new contract was the first step in abolishing mandatory overtime, a major issue in the strike, she said.
"We're moving in the right direction ... the hospital is hiring nurses, but not fast enough. In the meantime, we're losing more people, and my concern is if we don't hurry up, we won't be able to fix the problem," she said.
She said understaffing causes stress that can inhibit the ability to think and work safely. In some ways, stress is part of the excitement, but not at the level where it makes it unsafe for the patients, she said.
She was part of the collaborative that brought forward House Bill 78 that would prohibit mandatory overtime and dictate that health-care facilities use American Nurses Association principles for staffing rather than arbitrary numbers.
Criteria: ANA staffing principles factor in patients' needs, the facility itself, level of training or expertise of the nurses involved.
"In a nutshell, we're asking hospitals to use the same critical thinking skills to determine staffing that they expect from nurses when they deliver care. We want accountability at every level," she said.
Warino considers the ONA the professional umbrella organization for all registered nurses. "We provide the information and support nurses need to practice professionally," she said.
Nurses have independent functions that have grown in complexity over the years that require a scientific knowledge and the ability to maneuver complicated technology. "Nurses have to be scientists and technological wizards," she said.
"I love what I do too much to give it up. I'd rather stay and make it right," she said.