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University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) registered nurses (RNs) approved a new four-year collective bargaining agreement with the hospital on May 5, 2015.
The agreement addresses several issues. For example, it provides the nurses an across the board pay increase of 9.5 percent over four years, with additional increases based on years of experience.
Also, it gives all RNs regular permanent shifts with no rotating. “Rotating shifts” required RNs to rotate back and forth between night and day shifts, which left many RNs fatigued and less mentally alert and increased the possibility of medication and other errors that pose a risk to patient safety, according to a statement by National Nursing United (NNU), which is a union that represents RNs, including more than 1,500 at UCMC. In several cases, nurses had fallen asleep while driving home from shifts, NNU said.
The new agreement includes the addition of eight new patient care support nurses to assist when nursing units need extra clinical help or are facing emergencies. Also, UCMC RNs maintained the role of charge nurses. According to NNU, charge nurses make sure there are a safe number of nurses for patient care on their unit, respond to emergencies like cardiac arrests, and serve as a clinical resource for less experienced RNs and physicians.
“We were able to maintain charge nurses in the union, in their clinical role and reduce the number of patients that charge nurses are required to take in addition to their charge nurse duties,” said lead negotiator Jan Rodolfo, RN, NNU’s Midwest director.
“This is truly a positive step for all of us as we continue to advance the profession of nursing here at UCMC,” said Debra Albert, senior vice president, patient care services, and chief nursing officer at UCMC.
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