Blog WSH

Good Old Boys…

Before I comment on WSH leadership, I want to state that the Secretary of DSHS and Assistant Secretary have done a great deal of work to address safety issues which their predecessors had ignored.  The highest level of DSHS is listening to their employees and is involved in taking action for the safety of DSHS employees.  I commend their efforts and look forward to working in a collaborative fashion with them.

The “good old boy” network is alive and thriving at WSH.  Appointments to RN positions occur without interviews, yet documents are produced to indicate why candidates were denied consideration having never been interviewed.  Terminations occur without required hearings.  Evenhanded treatment does not exist at WSH with any disciplinary action that has been taken that I am aware of.  Employees are attacked by the CEO verbally in front of peers in official meetings in front of other administrators.  Thus unprofessional and abusive behavior is modeled from the very top of WSH chain of command to all administrators, in some cases in front of HR managers who do nothing other than observe the behavior.  Unpaid wages for RN call back continue…  When DSHS produced the data indicating many thousands of dollars in unpaid wages to Registered Nurses, DSHS has refused to compensate.  When the Central Safety Committee repeatedly requested plexiglass nursing station protection, this was denied by the Executive Leadership Team (without producing a single document to explain why) while injuries from this decision continue and more employees are injured.  Three wards at WSH have no seclusion room.  Many recommendations were made by the Safety Committees to create this emergency last step resource, this was denied by the Executive Leadership Team again (repeatedly) without written comment.  Food preparation is another issue which endangers our patients and personnel.  Food is delivered to the wards in bulk, it is then proportioned and plated on the ward for service to our patients.  The problem is that there are only enough food aids to cover less than half the wards for breakfast and dinner meals.  Thus food PREPARATION must be conducted by the minimal base staffing level of nursing employees for OVER half the patents of WSH.  These same hard working nursing employees are NOT supervised for compliance with food regulations.  These same hard working nursing employees may have just assisted with patient hygiene and care.  A food born infection and sentinel event can occur at any time, a fact which the highest level of WSH administration is fully aware.  Most people are not aware that DSHS has no form of attendance policy or standard, because DSHS does not even permanently record unscheduled absence.  Timekeeping is falsified through directives from the very top of DSHS chain of command.  CIBS, our payroll department, is directed by DSHS to indicate that over a thousand overtime eligible employees (that ACTUALLY work 7.75 hours per day) are recorded for and compensated for full eight hours per day.  DSHS requires CIBS to “cook the books” indicating that these employees begin to earn overtime after 7.75 hours rather than eight hours of actual time.  “Actual time” and time recorded at DSHS do not match.  DSHS cannot pass a Department of Labor audit for its timekeeping system.  Taxpayers are paying millions of dollars a year for unearned wages while WSH works understaffed.  I was present in Olympia when the CEO did NOT officially ask for additional staff even after legislators repeatedly pointed out the need based on the astronomical overtime numbers produced by WSH.  The Joint Nurse Staffing Committee will shortly produce an official recommendation for increasing the number of funded positions to reduce or eliminate the need for overtime.

If I were in charge I would have a consultation company come in and investigate all complaints.  This was done in the past when sexual harassment was rampant at WSH and court rulings required a court monitored review. Line staff and administration have never been further apart with regard to communication.  The Executive Leadership Team of WSH acts independent of line staff that provide the actual patient care.  The Executive Leadership Team of WSH frequently rejects safety recommendations and produces no documentation as to why,  the problem is that there is no form of accountability created for the WSH Executive Leadership Team.  The WSH Executive Leadership Team should be held accountable for their actions.  The CEO initiated morning “huddles” where executive staff alone discuss the issues ahead (no input or participation from line staff or direct supervision).  I must admit I have seen many administrations come and go in the past thirty years, but the current one requires immediate external investigation and intervention.  Oversight must be initiated immediately.  Our Safety Committees must develop a written recommendation process and review system which requires CEO level written response and feedback.  Communication must be forced, otherwise it will not exist at WSH.  

Civil law suits continue.  

Get Active

I have heard some degree of consternation from individuals who have never actively represented our membership that are complaining of  the minimal choices in the current elections.  Becoming an active Delegate and troubleshooting grievances is a great way to progress to becoming an Elected Union Officer.  The new Delegate training dates can be found here.  To become a Delegate all you have to do is fill out a Delegate Petition.  By representing members, Delegates learn how the system works and often develop a keen insight into how our systems can be improved.  Elected Union Officers ARE active Delegates and participate in many committees, labor/management meetings, and are often active in lobby events in Olympia.  There is MUCH work involved.  The degree of work for Elected Officers far exceeds normal hours of work on almost a daily basis.  What concerns me is that it is usually individuals sitting on the sidelines that have done none of the “heavy lifting” that complain the most about minimal choices, as well as how “they” could do better when they have never taken the time to represent members actively or participated in member negotiation processes.  To those sideline detractors, get active and learn how member representation works.  I suggest going to the Delegate Tools page and reading the different steward manuals.  Get active and become our next generation of Elected Union Officer!  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  ALL are welcome! 

Please let me know if you are interested in joining our Contract Negotiation Team!  

Solutions Groups are Out!

Our new CEO seems to take pride in bullying RN’s at every level.  He makes inappropriate and demeaning statements at all levels of meetings.  RN4’s, RN3’s and RN2’s have witnessed his inappropriate interactions.  This childish and clearly inappropriate behavior will not be allowed to be modeled in front of his administrators.  I have personally witnessed his inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.  I have pulled out of the Solutions Group as a result.  When the CEO proves that he is capable of interacting in a professional manner, I shall reconsider this stance.  

Joint Nurse Staffing Committee Meeting

Today we had a very productive Joint Nurse Staffing Committee meeting.  We are starting to come up with actual numbers of positions that we will request.  We are asking for zero absorption of 1:1’s and additional positions to be  made available for deployment if a 1:1 occurs during a shift.  We are asking that the nursing subsidy of dietary department end so that nursing will not perform food preparation duties again.  No more need to have food handler cards for MHT’s.  Full food preparation coverage for all wards and all shifts without utilizing nursing personnel, thus not undermining base staffing levels as now occurs on more than half the wards for breakfast and dinner meals.  We discussed the number of positions required to provide three RN2’s per ward per shift to provide for seven day coverage without utilization of overtime.  We discussed the number of RN3 positions that would be required to have a supervisory only duty, to be deployed as a charge nurse only AFTER mandatory overtime was declared and no other option was available.  We will be meeting weekly to hammer this annual staffing plan out by May 1st.  There is still much work to do.  I wish to thank Joanne Metropolis and Margaret Cary for their assistance today.  

Ad Hoc Safety Committee Meeting

Today an Ad Hoc Safety Committee meeting was held at WSH and CSTC.  The group toured CSTC this morning.  We had an outstanding presentation by Eric Logan PNE at CSTC.  We then had an extended meeting with visiting Eastern State Hospital employees at WSH.  We discussed input form Eastern State Hospital employees of what they learned the past day at Western State Hospital.  We discussed that staffing plans would be completed and submitted by the Joint Nurse Staffing Committee’s in WSH, ESH, and CSTC by May 1st.  A staffing cost package would be compiled in May for DSHS.  The funding request would include training, permanent float pools, etc.  There is much work to do.  DSHS appears to be committed to putting all past safety recommendations into affect.  Thank you DSHS for your efforts with the Ad Hoc Safety Committee!    

No Ethical Conduct at WSH

Ethical conduct is non-existent at WSH.  On Thursday I participated in a grievance hearing pertaining to RN transfer processes.  An RN3 position was posted for transfer opportunity after the incumbent left the position.  Five candidates were listed as being on the transfer list for consideration for that position.  None of the transfer candidates was interviewed.  Documents pertaining to the five candidates listed in handwriting why each of those candidates was excluded from being appointed (not to mention interviewed)…  At the hearing it was confirmed that NO candidate was interviewed, documents were created by Administration to make it look like the transfer process was followed while Administration appointed their pre-selected candidate into the position.  They used the pre-selected candidates assumed strengths as the bar that the transfer candidates would be measured by.  The Administrative preselected candidate had the least seniority and experience of all non-interviewed candidates.  In the hearing, the CEO Designee stated “your contract doesn't require an interview for the candidate to be excluded from consideration.”   This unethical conduct is so typical of the current administration at WSH that the CEO Designee was actually shocked that SEIU would be concerned about its members being excluded from consideration (five of them) sight unseen…  None of the uninterviewed transfer candidates was even informed of the pre-selected candidates permanent appointment.  The level of corruption at WSH is sad.  All appointments made during the past year must be audited.  An external agency must be brought in to conduct this audit. WSH cannot be trusted to fairly administer the hiring process.  SEIU needs to appoint an RN hiring panel for all RN interviews to create transparency and prevent further corruption.    

JNSC Meeting Today

A Joint Nurse Staffing Committee was held today.  The CEO attended and made a presentation of his vision for staffing.  He discussed the new permanent MHT Float Pool.  The JNSC Charter was reviewed and a protocol for visitors was initiated allowing for JNSC interaction with visitors after all business was completed.  The JNSC will proceed meeting weekly until a 2015 staffing plan is completed for submission to the CEO with a target completion date of May first.  There is much work to do in a short period of time.  

It is important to note that staffing committees were a required component of our contract since 2006.  It was not until this past year that grievances were filed for DSHS noncompliance which resulted summit meetings with WSH, ESH & CSTC, the last one occured in December of 2013 which established the Charters and processes for each JNSC at WSH, ESH, and CSTC.  Standardized forms and process for all three DSHS JNSC’s were established for the first time.  Birthing this thing was VERY painful.  

The plan which will be submitted in May will be the very first staffing plan to be considered by DSHS and the Legislature since inception in 2006.  It was not an easy road to get where we are now.  But for the first time in WSH history, the JNSC is now in charge of oversight of the WSH staffing plan within a committee which is half composed of direct care nurses.  

Tough Day At The Office

Many RN’s remain unpaid for call-back wages which are due to them.  DSHS has the records, but they have not proceeded with any intent to pay.  SEIU will be providing all the documents to the Department of Labor for a full audit and payment of unpaid call back pay.  Stay tuned.

The CEO has initiated several procedures at WSH which change work conditions, at no time was there an attempt to discuss the change in work conditions with Labor.  Unfair Labor Practice Charges are pending.  

There are currently many live grievances in progress.  They involve the issues of attendance, DSHS lack of attendance policy or standard, arbitrary persecution of RN’s, discrimination in hiring practices, violation of mandatory subject provisions, and overtime use practices.

Inform the a Delegate if your supervisor marks you down for unauthorized leave, unless you were a no-call no-show.  Doing so violates our contract.  Let us know quickly so that timeframes to take action are not violated.

Next week ESH staff will be visiting WSH as part of the Ad Hoc Safety Committee.  They will tour our competency training process and wards.  Say hi to your peers from Eastern!  Several weeks ago the WSH delegation went to ESH, we have much to learn from them.  They spend their money on staffing and direct care equipment.  

I continue to recommend that all RN’s purchase malpractice insurance for attorney coverage costs.  


© Paul Vilja 2017