If you want a fast and fuel-efficient vehicle, what do you do? You put money into a vehicle that either comes fully equipped with the best, newest upgrades to get more “bang for your buck”, or you invest money into your old car, to keep it running as new. So, continuing on with the mechanical mentality, nurses are the car parts, this shouldn’t be hard for hospital administrators to grasp the analogy, for the most part in their eyes we are cheap, disposable parts of machinery anyways.
Nevertheless, to keep your machines working properly and efficiently, you must invest in the working parts. You can pay a decent amount of money to have a Bentley exterior, and it falls apart as you drive away, if it drives at all, because the motor is dysfunctional. If hospital administrators want to have their hospitals resemble a luxury vehicle, they must be willing to invest the money to buy and maintain the luxury parts it requires.
Nurses, nursing ancillary staff, and other non-clinical staff members are all part of the working unit, and a unit is nonfunctional if parts are missing, or there are not enough parts to complete the work proficiently. If you have one headlight working in your vehicle, you will get pulled over and fined, although it still shining the light ahead, you will have limited visibility to drive safely. If you have inadequate staffing, you will have limited resources to practice safely. If you don’t have the right oil to lubricate your engine, it will break down, if your staff does not have the proper functional equipment, it will break down eventually.
Hospital administrators need to reassess the ways the hospitals are operated and come to a rough, and yes it can be costly, decision to either actually function in the level of safety they want to be associated with, or put up a front and seem fancy, yet broken down and unsafe to be driven. It is very much ok to drive a used car, that will safely take you from A to B, just as it is ok to an old hospital building, with walls needing a little paint touch-up, as long as the equipment and parts are fully functional and are cared for. If the budget does not allow for new flooring, make sure the old floors are clean. The size of the TV in the patient’s room does not matter as much as the resources available to save their lives.
Make sure you have the proper amount of seatbelts available in your vehicles for when patient’s lives come crashing, there will be enough nurses to save them. Investing in employee retention is more cost-efficient than recruiting and hiring new nurses every month, invest your money on adequate staffing and functional equipment. I challenge hospital administration to put their money where their mouths are, if you claim to have “The Best Hospital” make it so, and don’t require your staff to “manage up” making false claims to your patients. Statistically speaking, and common sense, it is less likely for me to provide safe care when the same amount of nursing resources are now divided into an unsafe workload, you wouldn’t tow a 50 ft. boat in a sedan.
At the end of the day, putting up a façade in the reality of care will only allow for more unrealistic expectations from the patients we treat. If you work on improving the perception of patients, they will expect that as reality. If you see someone driving a luxury car, you expect it to operate just as luxurious as it looks. A big screen TV costs just about the same as a new blood pressure machine or a glucometer. Patient’s satisfaction scores, because that’s all administrations care about, always take a hit when they expect luxury and the reality is another. Invest in your staff and equipment necessary to maintain your patient care units fully and safely functional.
Worry about employee satisfaction as much as you do about patient’s satisfaction, it is cheaper to keep employees than to keep hiring and training new ones. Safe staffing ratio has a positive effect on hospital-acquired infection and pressure injuries, it also affects positively the patient’s satisfaction and overall health outcomes, and that is the bottom line of healthcare.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN