A nurse recently shared a video on TikTok in which she claims that all the nurses in the “med-surg” at Providence Regional Medical Center called out of work on January 8 because they had twice as many patients as they should have, according to the staffing plans agreed to by the nurses and administrators. She added that the nurses were forced to treat more patients than they could handle on Jan. 7, and that they called out the next day to avoid having to repeat the experience. The video, which has been viewed over 60,000 times, was posted by the user @the.nurse.erica, but the hospital said the content is misleading.
It turns out “Nurse Erica” doesn’t work for Providence Regional Medical Center, but a nurse who does said the nurses who called out that day work in the medical-telemetry department, not the med-surg unit. The nurse explained that only a few nurses had been scheduled for Jan. 8 due to the staffing shortage instead of the usual eight or nine plus a charge nurse. They were tasked with caring for 32 patients, which exceeded the ratios put in place by the hospital.
Other nurses who work at the facility said two nurses took unplanned days off that day, leaving just two nurses on staff, one of whom was training the other.
All the nurses who spoke out wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
The hospital confirmed that several day shift nurses called out in the med-tele unit on Jan. 8, but it disputed some of the facts in the video.
Samantha Desmarais, a spokesperson for the hospital, said that having multiple nurses call out on the same day isn’t “uncommon during respiratory season.” She explained that one travel nurse refused a shift but there is no staffing ratio minimum for the travel nurses’ contracts.
“Patient volume and staffing ratios are dynamic during any given day, including the shift in question. Providence is fortunate, due to its size, to have the flexibility to float caregivers to the hospital’s areas of greatest need to safely care for patients — even during a national staffing crisis,” Desmarais commented.
None of the nurses who called out on Jan. 8 have spoken publicly about their decision. But another nurse in the tele-med unit said nurses are often asked to take care of seven to eight patients at a time and that the charge nurse, who isn’t supposed to have any patient, usually has anywhere from two to seven patients.
“When nurses are forced to work with more than the recommended nurse-to-patient ratios it can result in adverse safety events, errors and delayed care, which can potentially increase the patient’s hospital length of stay, morbidity and mortality,” the nurse shared anonymously.
Desmarais added that the hospital is doing everything it can to improve working conditions. “We are working on long-term solutions and innovative workforce models of care delivery to address the workforce staffing crisis that we, along with hospitals around the nation, currently face. The past few years have been difficult, and we are thankful for our caregivers who provide excellent care to the community every day.”