On Friday, March 3rd, LPNs at Hartford Nursing and Rehab Center voted to become members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan. Nurses at Hartford worked together to form a union to improve the lives of their families and their patients. They also hope to improve the facility’s chronic short staffing, which affects the quality of care they can provide their patients and the time they can spend with their own families.
“They tell us that their priority is the resident when they aren’t giving us the resources that we need to take care of the residents” said Shakela Wilkins-Smith, who has been an LPN there for five years. Another LPN, Lori McLaughlin, noted that it was not uncommon to have 44 or more patients with only two nurses and two CNAs to provide care.
Tracy Plant-Bonner described how this affects her patients, saying “I’m regularly so backed up with tasks because of understaffing that I can’t give morning medications to residents until the afternoon.” Understaffing has caused some nurses to work double shifts –and even more at the expense of both nurses and their patients. Plant-Bonner recalled when she arrived at work one morning and the woman she was relieving had been there for 21 straight hours. “I could see how frustrated and upset she was. It wasn’t right that management did not have someone come in to relieve her.” With the union in place, they are confident that they will have the ability to collectively work through these issues with management.
The nurses at Hartford know that together they can improve their jobs and the care they can provide to their patients. “With a union we can have better communication with management”, said Wilkins-Smith, “We work hard to prioritize our day and do everything we can to get out on time and get home to our families. We shouldn’t have to choose our jobs over our families, kids, and livelihood every time.”
Hartford LPNs are excited to join the 10,000 other health care providers in Michigan who work together to build stronger communities, improve the lives of patients and families across the state, and lead the fight for affordable quality care across the country.