LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The impacts of the pandemic are still being felt in many areas, but especially in healthcare.
Soon, nurses at University Medical Center in Las Vegas will have to work mandatory overtime shifts.
The hospital says it's necessary as it deals with staffing shortages and enters what they are calling a new phase of health care.
A UMC spokesperson told 13 Action News:
“With fewer team members volunteering for additional shifts, UMC made the decision to use the agreed-upon mechanisms outlined in our negotiated UMC/SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreement as a precautionary measure to ensure appropriate nurse-to-patient ratios. In support of our commitment to patient safety, UMC maintains the highest nurse-to-patient ratio in the state. The plan to introduce additional shifts serves as a short-term measure, and we remain confident that many of these shifts will not be necessary. The additional shifts will begin on March 21 and last for an initial period of 60 days."
Last week, nurses gathered outside of UMC to protest the mandatory shifts while the union that represents many of the healthcare workers met with hospital officials to ask if they would reevaluate their decision.
The union asked hospital officials if they’d be willing to offer a voluntary overtime list be posted first and if they can’t fulfill that, then the hospital has the right to seek mandatory shifts.
A spokesperson for UMC told 13 Action News they would now be offering voluntary sign-up sheets to mitigate the need for mandatory overtime.
“It's very upsetting. Why can’t they compromise at the very least?" asked Erica, a former UMC nurse who now advocates for her peers. "They want nurses to keep giving and giving but that’s all nurses have done for two years," she added. "It’s a great personal sacrifice but now they’re just saying keep doing it and we’re not going to meet you in the middle."
UMC has enacted mandatory shifts in the past.
The first round was in the Spring of 2020 at the start of the pandemic. It lasted around four months.
Mandatory shifts restarted in November of 2020 and continued for nine months.
A UMC spokesperson said:
“We are taking important steps to further improve patient throughput and limit the need for additional overtime shifts. In addition, UMC continues to directly address staffing needs by recruiting and hiring additional nurses. Since January, UMC has hired 41 additional nurses, and we expect this trend to continue in the coming months as our team members work diligently to recruit highly qualified candidates amid a nationwide shortage of nurses. In addition, we continue to maintain contracts with a large number of traveling nurses to bolster staffing levels in key areas across the hospital."