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.  

© Paul Vilja 2017