Lauren Borell is a nurse at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. She recently penned a letter to executives at the hospital about her experiences as an employee. Around 15,000 nurses in the state went on a three-day strike back in September in one of the largest nursing strikes in history. The nurses walked out to protest low pay, unsafe working conditions, and persistent staff shortages.
Borell says she feels tired and defeated now that the demonstration is over. She went to work at 7 AM the day after the strike and said she wanted to leave as soon as she walked in.
She arrived to find the hospital short staffed – again, so she decided to write up a report used for unsafe staffing, hospital conditions, maintenance, or security issues.
She said she sent the notice to her unit manager. They had a 30-minute conversation about the issue, during which she told her manager how disappointed she was in her leaders.
Borell took things one step further by sending an email to CEO Andrea Walsh and Vice President Melissa Fritz. She has yet to get a response.
“All I ever wanted to be was a nurse,” she began the message.
She explained that she has been in the medical field since she was 16 and that she first wanted to be a nurse the day she saw someone die.
“I was parasailing with my mom in the middle of the ocean when the captain had a heart attack. I performed CPR on him for over 15 minutes — just me — because no one else knew how to do it. I felt ribs cracked, I had blood and vomit all over me, and I watched this complete stranger take his last breath in my arms,” she wrote.
She said she went on to become a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home, where she often cared for patients at their most vulnerable.
“I’d watch their hearts break because their family didn’t come see them. I held their hands as their souls left them because I was the only person there. I cleaned their excrement, fed them, listened to their stories, washed their hair because there was no one else to care for them,” the letter read.
But a recent Thursday was by far the worst day of her entire nursing career.
“I have been verbally harassed, physically assaulted and mentally abused by patients. But it’s OK, because I am finally a nurse. I’ve taken five to seven patients at a time since being a nurse, which puts patient safety at risk, but it’s okay because I am finally a nurse. I started leaving work defeated after a long day, feeling unsupported from my leaders and sitting in my car in the parking lot, crying, but it’s OK because I am finally a nurse,” she wrote.
She continued to work short staffed while mourning the loss of an 8-year-old boy she was taking care of outside of work at the time.
She also described what it was like to go on strike while the hospital brought in temporary workers to maintain operations.
“Going through a strike is like going through a messy divorce,” she wrote. “I didn’t think coming back from a three-day strike was going to be easy, but I didn’t know it was going to make me not want to be a nurse. Walking into the hospital and seeing management say good morning was the biggest slap in the face and man did it sting. The travel nurses got free lunches. The hospital was paying them more than twice what I make. That hurt. But when I learned they were overstaffed with travel nurses? That crushed me.”
She said the patients had more safety during the three-day strike than they had since February of 2020. Borell claims the administrators went above and beyond to support the travel nurses when they failed to do the same for their own employees.
It was that day when she decided she didn’t want to be a nurse anymore.
“Methodist ripped my passion for nursing away from me on that day,” she said.
“I have no faith in any hospital leaders or administrators. If you have the privilege of reading this email, my name is Lauren Borell RN, I am 22 years old and a nurse at Methodist. I have no idea who my leaders are, and I would love to talk with them because all I’ve ever wanted to be was a nurse and I’m not done fighting for my passion yet.”