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Union complaint not justified

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The state Department of Health’s survey team didn’t uphold a labor union complaint related to insufficient staffing at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, but it did find some deficiencies that potentially could be tied to overworked nurses.

The team’s written report was made public on Friday. Its four-day inspection visit to the hospital was completed on July 11.

The inspection, which was conducted in response to a complaint by Local 1199-NM of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, found that some patients who fell did not have the required written assessment of their conditions after the tumble.

This was the case for five of 11 patients who were sampled in the survey, according to the report.

“This deficient practice could result in difficulty if not inability for the staff to recall, for future purposes, a patient’s condition immediately following a fall,” the report says.

The hospital also was found deficient in that the medical records of three patients gave no indication whether they were turned every two hours, as required, to prevent bedsores.

“Lack of documentation providing verification of such turning/repositioning yields uncertainty that the necessary turning/repositioning was done,” the report states.

In both cases, the hospital issued a plan of correction that includes re-education of all nurses on the protocol and documentation of such incidents, and a monitoring and auditing plan to assure compliance with these requirements.

The hospital ran advertisements after the survey was completed last month, announcing that the union’s complaint was unsubstantiated, and praising the staff’s work and the care provided there.

Asked to comment on the deficiencies mentioned in the report, hospital spokesman Arturo Delgado said Friday in an email, “We were pleased that the DOH survey found the complaint by union leadership to be unsubstantiated.

“There were additional findings from the visit related to documentation. These findings do not require a response to DOH but in an effort to continuously improve our processes, we’ve already put plans in place to address them.”

As for the union, it has insisted that staffing was increased at the hospital during the survey team’s visit and that the Department of Health did not do enough to talk to staffers outside the presence of their supervisors.

“Employees agree that during the four days the hospital was visited by the investigative team from DOH the staffing at the hospital met regulatory requirements … the nurse to patient staffing ratios for those four days were the highest we have seen in over two years,” said Fonda Osborn, president of District 1199 New Mexico, in a written statement earlier this month.

“We only wish the DOH were to insist that the staffing standards used during that ‘brief shining moment’ at St. Vincent’s Hospital be what the Christus administration were ordered to use when the regulatory agencies are not around … .”

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