Taking advantage of nurses
Very recently, I was admitted to South East Regional Hospital on the morning of a pretty difficult day in the Emergency Department. Locally, there had been a dreadful two-car accident, requiring victims to be helicoptered out to tertiary hospitals, another to ICU, and the full attention and care of all staff there.
As I lay in my bed, it was obvious to see the stress that this placed on the department and hospital at large. Despite the ensuing crisis, though, the remaining patients received nothing but stellar care, and when this attention was difficult to render in quantity, I was so impressed by the communication of nursing and medical staff alike. I can only imagine the missed breaks and pit stops that they had to endure.
What really concerned me in all of my stay was the number of staff, who at personal expense were working double or extra shifts and continued to provide high-level care. I know how much this takes from you on a personal level. A young night shift nurse put it most succinctly when she said to me in tired resignation: “I don’t think I even care about the money anymore; I just wish we had decent nurse-patient ratios.”
My heart sank hearing this, not because it was a new state of condition nurses had to work under, but because it has been this way since I began nursing in the ’70s. It occurred to me that despite the constancy of this situation and having supported the too-numerous attempts of nurses and their representatives over all those years, not much has changed in this picture.
I am so saddened and angry to realise that our governments, both federal and state, still don’t value or support our nurses in a personally and professionally tolling industry. I think they take advantage of the common nature of nurses to care about what happens to their patients if they were to strike. Nurses are forgotten then, placed in lower consideration behind economy and politics.
So, I doff my hat to those who keep stepping up, but in a perverse way, I really hope you don’t. I hope you learn and allow yourselves the “luxury” of looking after yourselves and those who support you. You are entitled to a private life that isn’t interfered with by the profession you chose. You are also entitled not to feel guilty about that, too. You must look after yourselves, or you’ll have nothing left to give to your precious relationships nor to your patients.
I am so grateful for your professionalism and care during my recent hospital stay. Now, I hope you extend that precious observance to yourselves.
Jacqui Ashworth, Retired Member