Proposed Ohio law would prevent forced nurse overtime

 A shortage of nurses in Ohio has prompted a state lawmaker to propose a law that would ban hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime.State Rep. Robert Sprague, a Findlay Republican, said he's concerned that exhausted nurses working long hours can lead to preventable medical errors"It's a recipe for problems," Sprague told The Dayton Daily News.The Ohio Nurses Association supports the legislation Sprague introduced last month. Nurses sometimes work 12-hour shifts on successive days without lunch breaks, said the organization's CEO, Lori Chovanak."We want to be able to provide safe, confident care to our patients," Chovanak said.Research shows mistakes in administering medication, patient falls and patient morbidity rise when nurses work overtime, she said."We want to be able to provide safe, confident care to our patients," Chovanak said.The Ohio Hospital Association opposes the bill. It said in a statement that hospitals need flexibility to adequately treat all patients. The proposed law overlooks the varied skillsets within hospital staffs and ignores staff competency, the group said.There are more than 200,000 registered nurses in Ohio.The law would make Ohio the 19th state to ban compulsory overtime, Chovanak said. Continue Reading

Raise the flag for retiring Air Force nurse

AS A TRIBUTE to a top Air Force nurse who is retiring, officers are sending an American flag to be flown at important places in her life — including the Manhattan building where she became a U.S. citizen. The flag is making its way to the first base where Lt. Colonel Natalie Giscombe served as a nurse — Offut Air Force Base in Omaha — and to the last, Edwards Air Force Base near Rosamond, Calif. And on Friday, it will fly in front of Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan, where Giscombe, a Panamanian immigrant, became a U.S. citizen in 1986. “I told them it was such a pivotal point for me,” said Giscombe, 46, who immigrated to East New York, Brooklyn, when she was 8 and recalls being teased for speaking Spanish when she first arrived. “We’re definitely trying to live that American Dream,” she said about herself and her cousins, who all left Panama for the U.S. Giscombe was a sophomore at Stony Brook University when she decided it was time to become a citizen. She had missed out on internship and scholarship opportunities by only having a green card. “We’re staying here in this country, so let’s do it!” she says she told her mom. “I went to get sworn in that day, by myself. When you looked around, it was like the UN. It was just an amazing experience,” she said. “It was just the coolest thing. There were people in tears. You heard all these various languages being spoken. From that day, [the flag\] just chokes me up.” Officials at 26 Federal Plaza don’t usually fly ceremonial flags. But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decided to grant the request honoring Giscombe’s 24 years in the Air Force and even plans to hold a ceremony Friday afternoon. Her mother and eldest son both plan to be there to watch the flag ascend. “My son is like, ‘That is so cool, Mom,’ ” Giscombe said. Continue Reading

Kimball laying off 73 workers, including 62 nurses

LAKEWOOD – Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood will lay off 73 employees by the end of April as part of its plan to consolidate with Monmouth Medical Center, according to documents filed with the state.These new layoffs, coming at the end of April, will include 62 nurses, said Maria Refinski, president of New Jersey Nurses Union, Communication Workers of America Local 1091, which represents 274 nurses at Kimball.Meantime, the union representing nurses has started a petition trying to stop the merger. An official said the low-income residents that Kimball serves will have trouble finding maternity care nearby.“Those are services that that community really needs,” Refinski said. “It will be a hardship for the lower-income population.”Kimball’s parent company, Barnabas Health, said in January it planned to make the Lakewood hospital part of Long Branch-based Monmouth Medical Center and change its focus. It plans to close the hospitals’ maternity ward. It plans to spend $11 million to make all of its inpatient rooms private. And it plans to change its name to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus.Hospitals face mounting pressure under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, to manage their business more efficiently. The 101-year-old Kimball, in particular, was in a perilous spot. About 80 percent of its patients are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and charity care, which reimburse providers at lower rates than private insurers. As a result, Kimball had an operating loss of $3.4 million in 2012, according to a financial report by KPMG.Barnabas officials said Kimball didn’t have an intensive care unit for births, prompting about half of all new mothers in Lakewood to go to Monmouth Medical instead. Only 16 percent of all Lakewood babies were born at Kimball, the said.The company has said it is expanding the services it provides at offices outside the hospital setting, where it can offer care less expensively. Continue Reading

Lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt set to test Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in Seattle federal trial

SEATTLE - Opponents of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays serving in the military are hoping for another major legal victory as a federal trial begins Monday over whether to reinstate a lesbian flight nurse discharged from the Air Force Reserve. The trial comes just days after a federal judge in California declared "don't ask, don't tell" an unconstitutional violation of the due process and free speech rights of gays and lesbians. While the ruling does not affect the legal issues in the case of former Maj. Margaret Witt, gay rights activists believe a victory - and her reinstatement - could help build momentum for repealing the policy. "There's already political momentum to do something to repeal this unfair statute," said Aaron Caplan, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who is on Witt's legal team. "Judicial opinions from multiple jurisdictions saying there's a constitutional problem with this ought to encourage Congress to act more swiftly." Witt was a member of a squadron based at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma when she was suspended in 2004 and honorably discharged. She challenged the constitutionality of her dismissal, and a federal appeals court panel ruled in 2008 that the military could not discharge service members for being gay unless it proved that the firing furthered military readiness. The case was sent back to U.S. District Court in Tacoma for Judge Robert Leighton to determine whether Witt's firing met that standard. Several of Witt's former colleagues are expected to testify that she was an excellent nurse, and it was her dismissal - not her sexual orientation - that caused morale problems in the unit. Justice Department lawyers representing the Air Force note that the case has put them in the position of defending a law neither the president nor the department itself believes is good policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also favors repealing the 1993 law, which prohibits the military from asking about the Continue Reading

Three Brooklyn nursing homes slapped with fines for conditions dangerous to patients

Three Brooklyn nursing homes have been slapped with nearly $18,000 in fines for dangerous conditions that put patients' health in jeopardy, federal and state officials said. The biggest fine went to Wartburg Nursing Home in East New York, where the Daily News reported that a huge layoff of staff last summer left residents complaining of inadequate care. Federal officials ordered Wartburg to pay $10,400 last September, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Long Term Care Community Coalition. Inspectors found Wartburg was not "administered in a way that leads to the highest possible level of well-being for each resident." That was in May - before the nursing home slashed its staff by more than 50. Residents said things have only gotten worse. "They deserve it," said Wartburg patient Darrell Carolina, 39, who charged his food is usually cold by the time it gets to him, and that he has lost 19 pounds in recent months. Another resident said overstretched workers left her stranded in the bathroom for 45 minutes, and that she's been given the wrong medication at least three times. "Everybody suffers," she said. "The aides suffer and the patients suffer." Norwegian Christian Home & Health Center in Dyker Heights was fined $3,575 in November, also for failing to keep the home free of dangers and ensure a high quality of life for residents. Representatives for Wartburg and Norwegian Christian Home did not return calls for comment. Richard Mollot of the Long Term Care Community Coalition said the fines do little to force nursing homes to clean up their act. "Too often because the fines tend to be small, it's a slap on the wrist," he said. "A facility ... won't make any long-term changes to improve the quality of care because it's just part of doing business." State officials also fined the Schulman and Schachne Institute for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brownsville $4,000 after a February 2008 Continue Reading


ABOUT 75 registered nurses at Flushing Hospital took time out yesterday to rally for a new contract. The nurses picketed outside the hospital's entrance on 45th Ave., near Parsons Blvd., chanting such slogans as, "We want a contract and we want it now!" and "Benefits now!" The 379 registered nurses have been working without a contract since June 30. "We don't feel management has been negotiating in good faith," said Marion Fitzpatrick, a pediatric nurse at Flushing for the past 28 years. Mary Lou Cahill, a nursing representative for the New York State Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, said, "Management is trying to create a culture of intimidation and disregard for the difficult but vital work registered nurses perform." According to the nurses association, the hospital is short on registered nursing staff, which forces nurses to work overtime or handle more patients than they believe to be a safe load. Tom Jennings, lead negotiator for the nurses, said the health care workers are growing increasingly frustrated that management has chosen to let their health care benefits expire at the end of the month by not paying a fee set by the association's benefit fund. Registered nurses at Flushing Hospital are among the lowest-paid in Brooklyn and Queens, according to Jennings. He added, "The nurses want dignity and respect, and management is not giving them that." According to hospital spokesman Michael Hinck, a negotiating meeting is set for today. "We are confident that progress will continue to be made and that hopefully everyone will reach an agreement and everyone will be happy with it," said Hinck, who added that the hospital preferred not to "go over the finer points in the media." Among those at the informational picketing was Grace Meng, daughter of Assemblyman Jimmy Meng (D-Flushing). Grace Meng said her father "has been in constant contact with both the nurses association and upper level management at Flushing Hospital. "He Continue Reading

‘I’m not mother of the year’: Sicko Michigan nurse guilty in killing, dismemberment of 32-year-old son (VIDEO)

A Michigan jury wasted little time in branding one nurse a psycho sicko. The registered nurse who strangled, dismembered and then dumped her 32-year-old son's bagged remains across a rural Michigan roadway has been found guilty of first-degree murder. Macomb County jurors needed less than two hours of deliberations Monday to convict Donna Scrivo, 61, in the gruesome January 2014 killing of Ramsay Scrivo. Scrivo, who reportedly tried to have her son hospitalized for mental illness in the past, testified that a masked, armed man held her hostage, killed her son and made her help, including carrying bags filled with Ramsay's chopped up body parts out of the house. "I'm not mother of the year. I have multiple problems," Scrivo said. "I think I did everything to protect the rest of my family. I did everything he told me to." Police also recovered an electric saw was in one of the bags. Scrivo insisted the mystery man, who she feared would kill over relatives, held her hostage for five days in her St. Clair Shores condo, cuffed with a scarf as a gag. "You actually want the jury to believe that story?" Assistant Prosecutor William Cataldo asked Scrivo at the start of his cross examination, The Detroit Free Press reported. "Yes," Scrivo replied. Prosecutors alleged Scrivo bought a saw at Lowe's and then dismembered her son's body in the bathtub. Some of the remains police found were charred. Defense lawyer Mark Haddad said his 110-pound client couldn't lift the body of her 235-pound son into a bathtub and questioned why she would mutilate him. "She would have to be the stupidest murderer in the world unless she was forced," Haddad said. "Unless she was directed at gunpoint to do these seemingly stupid things." Scrivo reported her son missing to the cops. "It doesn't make any sense," Cataldo said in closing arguments. "It's because Continue Reading

Male nurses earn more than female nurses: study

Even though nine out of 10 nurses are women, men in the profession earn higher salaries, and the pay gap has remained constant over the past quarter century, a study finds. The typical salary gap has consistently been about $5,000 even after adjusting for factors such as experience, education, work hours, clinical specialty, and marital and parental status, according to a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. "Nursing is the largest female dominated profession so you would think that if any profession could have women achieve equal pay, it would be nursing," said lead study author Ulrike Muench from the University of California, San Francisco. Muench and colleagues used two large U.S. data sets to examine earnings over time. One, the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, provided responses from nearly 88,000 participants from 1988 to 2008. The other, the American Community Survey, offered responses from nearly 206,000 registered nurses from 2001 to 2013. Every year, each of the data sets found men earned more than women; the unadjusted pay gap ranged from $10,243 to $11,306 in one survey and from $9,163 to $9,961 in the other. There was a gap for hospital nurses, $3,783, and an even bigger one, $7,678, for nurses in outpatient settings. Men out-earned women in every specialty except orthopedics, with the gap ranging from $3,792 in chronic care to $17,290 for nurse anesthetists. While the study didn't address the reasons for persistent gaps in pay, it's possible that men are better at negotiating raises and promotions or that they are less likely than women to take extended breaks from the labor force to care for young children or aging parents, said Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland. Many women are drawn to nursing at least in part by the flexibility, noted Davidson, who wasn't involved in the study. With shift work and opportunities to Continue Reading

Indian nurse who was raped, strangled in 1973 dies after 42 years in coma

MUMBAI, India — A Mumbai nurse who was in a vegetative state for 42 years after being sexually assaulted while working in a hospital has died, authorities said Monday. Aruna Shanbaug, 67, suffered severe brain damage when she was sodomized and strangled with a metal chain by a hospital worker in 1973. The man, a ward attendant, left her to die in the hospital's basement, where she was found 11 hours later. She was 25 years old at the time. Shanbaug was diagnosed with pneumonia last week and was on a life support system for the past few days, said Pravin Bangar, medical superintendent at Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital. Shanbaug's case sparked a debate over India's euthanasia laws after a Mumbai-based author and friend of the nurse petitioned the courts to stop force-feeding her through a tube so her suffering would not be prolonged. India's Supreme Court rejected the petition filed by Pinki Virani, who had sought euthanasia for Shanbaug, saying the court should "end her unbearable agony." The petition was opposed by nurses at the hospital, who took turns caring for her for more than four decades after Shanbaug's family said they were unable to support her. The attacker was released after serving a 7-year jail term. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bronx nursing home bosses forced to pay $80K in back wages after ripping off workers

Two honchos at a Bronx nursing home who failed to pay their health aides for four years will now have to cough up $80,000 in back wages, according to a plea deal reached Thursday. Maria Etim and Charles Mayers, who run Golden Apple Home Care on E. Tremont Ave., admitted ripping off 63 home care workers who cared for the elderly and disabled between February 2009 and September 2013. When the workers protested, Etim and Mayers led them on by lying that they would be paid at some future date, said state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “These defendants deprived workers of thousands owed to them for the valuable services they provided to some of New York’s most vulnerable patients,” Schneiderman said. Yonkers residents Etim, 58, and Mayers, 68, each pleaded guilty to one count of failure to pay wages, a misdemeanor. They will be sentenced in Bronx Supreme Court next month. A consultant for the agency, 49-year-old Wayne Patterson, pleaded guilty to the same crime last month. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading