Layoffs Coming For Nurses At Children’s Hospitals

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is laying off nurses. While the hospitals say the cuts are necessary, the nurses worry patient safety will be jeopardized.

The hospitals’ representative says it hasn’t been decided on how many layoffs there will be. Nurses say about 70-75 nurses could be given pink slips.

Cari Trousdale works in the Med-Surgery Department as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. She says she worries about what the cuts will do to the patients.

“Safety is no longer the benchmark,” said Trousdale, who has been a nurse for 23 years. “We are running so profoundly short-staffed that safety is significantly compromised.”

Nurses expect most of the cuts will come from the neo-natal, specialty care nursery, med-surgery and float team departments.

According to the hospitals, the cuts are coming because of fewer patients due to a variety of factors, most notably a decline in the birth rate.

Right now, however, the hospitals are seeing more patients than usual.

“Our surge on the Minneapolis campus, and I’m sure St. Paul as well, has gone on now for a good two months and we are in the thick of it,” said Trousdale.

Sources told WCCO-TV that things got so bad a couple of weeks ago that secretaries and house keepers were asked to help watch patients.

According to the hospitals, this isn’t true and they released a statement saying, “At no point have we, or would we, place a sick child under the supervision of any employee who is not trained as a health care provider. Any reports suggesting that we have done this are inaccurate.

“If we were talking normal average daily census right now, we still wouldn’t have the staff that we needed to take care of kids,” said Trousdale.

The hospitals’ representative says that patient safety is always the number one concern for every single employee at Children’s.

Sonya Goins, Producer
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  • Dan

    I can completely understand that reducing the number of nurses in a hospital can affect the safety of patients. Nurses are some of the hardest working people in the health-care industry and it seems patients quite often forget that.

    That being said, it is hard to not remember the recent nurses’ strike where “Patient Safety” was one of their main talking points. After the strike was averted, the conditions the Nurse Unions had asked for that SPECIFICALLY targeted patient safety, the patient to nurse ratio, was dropped yet the nurses’ pay amount was at least partially granted. In turn, the hospitals did not cut nurses pensions or benefits.

    Now I’m not blaming the nurses here (although I turn a suspicious eye at the Union), but forgive me for being hesitant when I see nurses talking about being short staffed but remember how the strike bargaining went down.

    • Sweetmesquite

      You make a very good point. During the strike this summer, there was no way the MN hospitals were going to let us get away with changing our staffing levels, that was made clear. When they came to the table to “negotiate” they presented a laundry list of take-backs, removing any and every policy and regulation Children’s nurses had fought for over the years in order to keep our patient’s safe from the cut-throat business tactics of the hospital (we’re not talking pay or pension, we’re talking cutting corners, and other safety measures). They wanted us to float between Minneapolis and St. Paul Children’s regardless of our skills and experience along with other ludicrous ideas (why is this a problem? Because Pediatrics is largely specialized, and each unit within Children’s has its own specialty area that calls for a unique knowledge and experience base.) They basically said, “take it or leave it” and refused to negotiate or budge on anything. Nurses to them are a dime a dozen. They don’t value the work we do and they don’t see nurse staffing as any kind of a potential safety problem.
      Long story short, I feel like we settled for a contract that is less than ideal, but more than ideal in terms of what the hospital would have liked to do with it. Locally and nationally the Unions folded on the safe staffing issue, which has been incredibly disappointing and naturally calls into question the reasoning behind our strike this summer in the first place.
      All I want to do is to take care of children in an environment that is safe and supportive of the provision of good quality care. I love my job in it of itself, but the company, it’s policies and politics and the way they treat their staff are deplorable.
      In all my years working for Children’s, one thing has remained the same: an unsafe situation (whether it has to do with staffing, equipment, supplies, policies or regulations) has to cause an adverse-event (cause harm to a patient, or cause them to die) in order for things to change. Children’s nurses work everyday to protect our patients from this unfortunate truth, if it means working overtime, going without breaks, thinking creatively, whatever it takes. Our patients deserve more. They deserve better.

  • shirley

    The hospital represenatives I”m sure are republicans, and they’re thinking it doesn’t matter if we lay off educated, skilled staff , cause we can get replacements at a lower rate of pay, thus trying to break the unions. and safety ,and regulations are not an issue. HELLO PEOPLE!!!!!

    • Dan

      Heh…why do people always have to bring politics into EVERYTHING?!?! The hospital administrators are running a BUSINESS. They are looking at their own bottom line, that is all. Firing 75 nurses just to attack the union makes no sense at all.

      And if safety and regulations are not the issue, why did the nurse in the article talk about it?

  • Deanne

    Yes, their business of making sure that the none-profit hospitals have enough to give more to the top employees.

    • Tired and almost broken

      I am employed by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN as a RN in the Emergency Department in Minneapolis. I invite any of you that doubt this nurse to come visit our waiting room to see for yourselves just how poorly staffed we are! Children are waiting too long (sometimes hours) to be triaged. Then because the rest of the hospital is staffed so poorly we end up “boarding” admissions for hours and hours. This effectively decreases the rooms that we are able to utilize to see the new sick children coming through our doors. It is truly scary! These sick and injured children are vunerable and deserve better! Hey, Alan Goldbloom if you are so worried about increasing our market-share and staving off the competition why don’t you let us do what we do best? Staff your hospitals safely so that we can provide the top notch care to our little patients that the state of Minnesota has come to expect from us!!! Then we won’t have to hide behind glitzy exteriors and big screen TVs. We will instead be able to market ourselves on our great patient outcomes!

      • Big Eggs

        or from behind the Big Eggs that Children’s put outside the hospital. Does anyone actually know how much they spent on these? It was an outrageous amount that could have been put to better use. Wonder when a lawsuit will be filed by parents whose kids have climbed up and fallen off these… Bring back Brock Nelson – he did care about the nurses and patients.

  • Frustrated

    This will probably prompt some negative responsez, but we need to look at the cost of caring for illegal immigrants. We have a large population that come into the er for minor illnesses. Free care is not “free”, and what we are seeing is the logical result of healthcare for those who can’t pay for it and aren’t even citizens. I’m not advocating turning away true emergency situations, but just those that use the er as a clinic.

    • nikki l

      Yes we do care for some immigrants. However, that is not the majority of our patient population. Behind HCMC, I believe that Children’s is the #2 care provider of under-insured children in the state. The insurance problem encompasses all groups of people, not just immigrants. If they can figure out a way to insure everyone, we may not be in this position.

      I’d encourage you to research before you make a comment about something that is not really the root of the problem. Also, it is illegal to turn anyone away in the emergency room.

  • Basement Dweller

    I work in the lab and our volumes have gone way down. The unsafe situation I see is the attitudes of the nurses who are becoming increasingly rude towards their co-workers throughout the hospital AND PATIENTS AND FAMILIES! That is just uncalled for and makes for a hostile work environment. If people stopped using the ER as their clinic, maybe it wouldn’t be so full. The MNA employees agreed to a contract, and the hospital has the right to do whatever they want within the confines of that contract. If the hospital were going to have a non-healthcare worker take care of a child, it would not be housekeeping. That is a flat out lie.

    • Tired and almost broken

      My invitation to all is still out there. If the media is really interested in the truth about our current staffing crisis then they should be attempting to interview the families of the patients we care for as they leave our facilities. If you don’t know who to believe ask the ones who are utilizing our services! They get it!!!!!

    • Outraged

      Lab volumes are down because they encourage docs not to check as many-to conserve more profit for themselves. As a result they cut back the staffing for lab and we cant even get emergency/stat lab draws done in a timely manner when patients are deteriorating. This is unacceptable!

      Childrens keeps the ER as a “cllinic” in addition to emergencies because they get more money that way-yes they can get a higher charge by seeing patients there than a simple office visit in the their clinics that they own on site-this is no accident.

      Our paitents know better than what you say-the only thing positive in the care they find is their nurses. You are probably that same lab manager that tried to tell us all to suck it up when patients are at risk-that is unethical! RNs have a professional, ethical and legal obligation to advocate for the best interest of the patient-that is why we are licensed by the state. Being a corporate drone is not an option.

      • Basement Dweller

        I am not a lab manager. Just a lowly employee ‘drone’ as you put it. Your reply is unprofessional, yet you say nurses are professional and ethical. Laboratorians have tried to become licensed by the state, but our proposals never make it to hearings in the house/senate committees. Decreased lab volumes mean decreased profits. We are one department of the hospital that consistently makes or exceeds revenue goals.Our staff has NOT been cut back…we just can’t replace the people who leave for greener pastures. I never said nurses don’t care. Just that there has been more than usual complaints by parents to lab staff about nursing staff being rude. We’ve noticed an increase in rudeness on the phone as well. I can’t imagine why…

    • Celtic lady


  • Outraged

    We have to remember that in our contract proposals we asked Childrens to agree to strve for the safe nurse to patient ratios that we used to have-not a decrease in our workloads. The fact that they were so stubborn they would not agree to that was a good forecast for exactly what they are doing now. They were so stubborn thay they would not negotiate anything and so their offer was to leave the contract as is. Nurses were between a rock and a hard place with that offer. After being threatened and treated like thrash for months they had had enough. This fight only began with that contract settlement-it has not ended.

    These hospitals no longer have the patients at heart-they are a cut throat business and only care about the money. Take a look at the conflicts of interest on the Bd of Directors and the CEO-they are using our community hospital as a cash cow and a golden parachute for themselves. They try to make you think that nurses pay is the cause of the problem-however if you are hospitalized take a close look at your bill. You will find that you are charged an average mark up of 600% of the true cost of care. Why? So that we can enrich the executives at Childrens and help them pay for commercials and lobbyists to undermine nurses, public regulatory oversight and anything else that presents as an obstacle to their profits. Don’t be fooled by their “not for profit” status-that is just a tax category that helps them avoid paying taxes.

  • RN

    How funny is it that this video starts with an ad for the University of MN hospital. LOL.

  • Children's RN

    First off- to those talking of the strike. Not to be on the offense here- but most of you have no idea what you are talking about. Yes, we did not get the safe-staffing proposal we so desperately wanted. But when you come up against a force unwilling to budge, you are essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place. In addition, we nurses did not take any pay increases until the third year of the contract (which mind you, will not cover inflation costs). For those looking for an additional challenge, research how much of an increase the CEO’s received without the bat of an eye.

    Yes! The hospital is a business. That being said, they aren’t a very good one if they cannot provide a service. And being in the business of caring for really, truly sick children, they had better be a GOOD business. Otherwise, with the new Children’s hospital opening at Amplatz, they better kiss their patients good bye! Patients’ parents will know where to go for excellent care.

    I completely agree with previous nurses’ responses. I am a nurse in the MPLS PICU at Children’s. Let me ask you people, specifically with children this: if you have a critically ill child, would you be very happy if your nurse was expected to care for one, sometimes two other critically ill children as well? Do you really think your nurse can do that WELL? Rhetorical question. Any one who has had a child admitted to the hospital will tell you the answer is NO.

    By the way, we do NOT have aides in the intensive care unit. It is the nurse that cares for your child or no one. So those banking on the help of additional “cheaper” staff, good luck with that.

    I would like to conclude that it seems to be those same people who “don’t blame the hospital for running like a business,” would be the same people getting real pissed off when their child is waiting an hour for pain medication because their nurse is too busy with another patient to bring it to them. I cannot blame those of you who have never had a child admitted into the hospital for not understanding this, but shame on you for not fighting for the best care for the children of MN. Be thankful you have never had to experience the short-staffed units that the families who are currently spending time there are dealing with now.

  • Proud Employee

    I work at Children’s and have had my own family cared for at Children’s. I would not want my children or grandchildren to ever go anywhere but Children’s Hospitals and Clinic of Minnesota. Times are hard every where and health care is a business. I travel through out the hospital as part of my job and many times I see nurses (and others) knitting, scrap booking, and doing other personal tasks in the unit that have nothing to do with taking care of patients. Yes, we are extemely busy right now but the layoffs do not go into effect until April. I am sure if business stays above predictions that the hospital administration will react accordingly.

    Children’s is recognized for quality and safety. That will never be compromised. Even during the stike, the temp nurses they brought in were fabulous, they worked hard, respected others and got the job done.

    I think it is a shame that nurses who are upset at the slow business are not looking for ways to get through the hard times and come out better but are so ready to start tearing everything and everyone who disagrees with them apart.. Maybe you should spend less time complaining and get to work.

  • Celtic lady

    The only people we seem to hurt by all of this are those still working and caring about our families and children. I am also a drone. Maybe that is why I have a more postive outlook. These negative, angry comments will keep people away from Childrens. Who would want to bring a child here with what is being broadcasted here. And so more layoffs. We need to get over what bothers us and make people want to seek care here. We need to care and respect our families and patients after all its our job and our mission.

    • Proud Employee

      could not agree with you more!

  • A nurse

    Shame on the RN who publicly trashed Children’s who has a national reputationin for providing quality care. What does this nurse stand to gain by basically saying nursing care in the hospital is atrocious and terribly unsafe, effectively telling the viewers to stay clear of Children’s. This will only make matters worse. I agree the environment at Children’s is less than ideal, but I would also submit that layoffs are the result of 2 things. A decrease in medicaid payments which represents 40% of the hospitals revenue. And the union refusing to compromise on pay/benefits and denying mgmt flexibility in staffing. As an example the union refused the hospitals offer to give 6 mandatory loa’s (furlough) accross the board so that when census is low the hospital can save money. This would have “spread the hurt around” and would have avoided some layoffs. Also, if we nurses are so concerned with staffing levels, lets collectively approach mgmt and ask for pay and benefit decreases across the board so the hospital has more resources to hire. But remember the all nurse meeting chant…NO TACKBACKS!!!!!! This is where that has gotten us.

  • sport

    Well..I have been spending a lot of time in hospitals lately and they all are cutting corners everywhere! Every hospital is talking about layoffs in the OBGYN and pediatrics because of the low birth rate right now. This hospital is no different.

  • A Nurse

    Children’s has a national reputation of providing exceptional pediatric care. Shame on Cari, whom I know, for defiling that reputation in the eyes of the public. What, may I ask is your intent? Is it your goal to make sure families do not chose Children’s or is it a larger outreach to tell the public that nurses are unsafe and are reckless in practice.. Last summer, nurses and the Union had a choice. Compromise and give some takebacks to “spread the hurt around”. Well, That didn’t happen and now we are reaping the benefits…layoffs, decreased staffing etc. Congratulations MNA nurses. You won. Keep your bloated contract at the expense of our patients.

  • Maria Ruhl

    Shame on this nurse who denigrates Children’s. The organization who has sustained her professional career. Way to go! Exuding to the public that Children’s nurses are unsafe. Great publicity for nurses and the hospital. Get a different nursing job if you care that little for the organization that hired you and the vulnerable patients that depend on you.

    • Tired and almost broken

      Maria…my allegiance and my moral and ethical duties are to the vulnerable children that are entrusted into my care!!! When I became a RN I understood that advocating for the health and safety of my patients was my primary mission…as it should be for all RNs. I am proud and inspired by Carol Trousdale’s courage to speak out on behalf of her patients! Perhaps you should review our Code of Ethics.

      • Maria Ruhl

        Tired and almost broken. I am an RN at Children’s and espouse the very same values you relay in your opening comment. Do not pretend that your values or morals regarding our nursing practice are somehow above mine. Code of ethics for nursing would also set forth the immorality of striking and abandoning our patients. Question. Did you participate in the one day strike? Nurse Trousdale’s “speaking out” only served to damage the reputation of Children’s and diminish our nursing practice. A better approach would be to get the union negotiators and Management to sit down and renegotiate our pay and benefits so we can keep staff up to par. Willing to do that?

      • A Nurse

        Tired and almost broken. Based on your posting name (and not your real one) I would advise you to possibly seek another position and let the new and very energetic and highly skilled nurses take the reins at Children’s. By your 1st comment you appear to be claiming the high moral ground. I would suggest you stay there. Question? Did you strike. If so your decision to abandon your patients is reprehensible. If not, then your remarks regarding this nurses repudiation of Children’s is effectively just as horrible. What good comes of this. We a nurses need to work with management to solve these staffing issues…not against…and not at the cost of defiling our own reputation as nurses and that of the hospitals that employ us.

      • Tired and almost broken

        The nurses at Children’s Minneapolis have always been organized…you both made the decision to apply and then accept a position with this organization…If working in an organized facility turns your stomach you are both free to seek employment elsewhere. I doubt that you will retain the same control over your practice or the benefits that have been secured for us by those hard working RNs that came before us!

  • MattGMD

    Oh look one more worker’s union that can be gutted so the healthcare corporations can start paying less salary and increase profits. Patient safety is a nice idea, but it will not be allowed to interfere with corp profits. These idiots that are anti-union won’t be so smug when they are laid up in hospital and their $7.00/Hour nurse opens the door to toss them a bedpan lol.

  • johnny

    I complain about teachers,police and other govt workers being grossly overpaid (150-175 k/year) Nurses should be paid more

  • Raggedyman

    Please try to look at business realistically. Individuals and services rendered are no longer the bottom line . This why America is in the toilet in so many industries. It should be considered Un american to run a business and give sub standard half baked business tp people ;who in a hospital;are paying more money than they have just be well. If this is how this hospital will be run it should be closed and they should go into a business where people s lives aren’t on the line.

  • Children's RN

    I am the nurse who works in the MPLS PICU and would like to clarify a little something. I never said the nurses do not provide excellent care, not once. I think we have some of the best, most passionate nurses in the business. I do think that the way the hospital is expecting to staff our units provides an environment where we cannot provide the standard of care we want to, and that isn’t fair to ask us to do with OUR license. It will for sure be fine for summer, I absolutely understand that. However they are just going to have to hire back and re-orient nurses for surge again next fall and winter. They must work to find a solution that works year-round.

    • A Nurse

      Children’s RN. Your clarification says it all. ” Children’s has some of the best, most passionate nurses in the business”. Based on that statement, I hope you would agree that publicly trashing our nursing care at Children’s serves no purpose. Also, your comment that “They must work to find a solution that works year-round.” I have to ask who are the “they” you refer to? …..nurses, management or the union? If we all worked together we could save nursing jobs. protect our nursing practice and ensure our patient care is safe.

  • Maria Ruhl

    Hey, tired and almost broken. I am tired (but not broken) of consistently hearing the age old mantra that if you don’t like what the union does, get a non -union nursing position. I did not earn a nursing degree to pay tribute to the union or even the organization that employs me. I became a nurse because I want to care for my patients.

    • Tired and almost broken

      Maria…you are the one that raised the union issue when you asked me if I participated in the one day strike. I consciously left any reference to MNA out of my initial responses and instead wanted to concentrate my comments on my perceived staffing concerns. You seem to question anyone that makes a statement that may be perceived as less than supportive of Children’s current staffing plan. It appears to me that you ARE working diligently at paying tribute to the organization that employs you. That is of course your choice, just as it is mine to give voice to my concerns regarding the safety of the current patient care environment in the unit where I work…perhaps the reality in your unit is different then what the ED, PICU, and the MED/SURG units have been experiencing lately. For the safety of our patients I dearly hope so!

      • Maria Ruhl

        My allegiance is to my patients. End of story. If you are concerned with staffing related issues and wish to avoid “any reference to MNA” then I would encourage you to come along side me, and many others in working together with management to find innovative ways to improve staffing. ” For the safety of our patients, I dearly hope so.” Of course, this may come with some personal sacrifice. BTW based on your earlier post “If working in an organized facility turns your stomach, than seek employment elsewhere” sure sounds like raising the union issue.

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