Justice for Nurses in Mental Health Nursing

Justice for Nurses in Mental Health Nursing

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Karen McClean started this petition to State Senator R. Creigh Deeds and

Mental Health Nursing, is unlike other nursing specialties. It takes a special kind of nurse to work and survive in the increasingly challenging patient population. In State mental health institutions across Virginia, nursing staff are increasingly pressured to work in volatile working environments extremely short of staff and with mandated overtime of up to 16 hours per shift. If this was an infrequent occurrence one would not be here demanding change and justice, but the fact is, this is happening daily. 

Nurses are being forced to work long hours with limited staff and a challenging patient population. Mental health nursing carries the highest number of injuries more so than an ED nurse. Nurses are thrown across rooms, punched in the face, kicked, slapped, spat on and verbally abused on a daily basis, sustaining injuries that are debilitating and have lifelong consequences that often see the injured party no longer capable of working. Yet there is no hazard pay and no recourse, but there is mandated overtime. To say nurses are FED UP, overwhelmed and exhausted doesn't scratch the surface. 

Private hospitals are refusing to admit patients with mental health issues because they can, yet state institutions that do not physically have the manpower to handle these patients safely are being forced to take on more and more patients. The reason is because of a law called the Creigh Deeds law, that prohibits State Mental Health Institutions in Virginia, from refusing admission of any patient. As a result, units that are equipped to hold max capacity of 28/29 patients are being forced to house 30+ patients, with patients being housed temporarily in day rooms. To add to this insanity the system is also being forced to house those with Intellectual Disabilities, Behavioral problems and psychotic disorders all in the same space. 

The system is broken and we are demanding those responsible, State officials of Virginia to open their eyes and see what is happening, act like they care by taking steps to change the system. Yes, more needs to be done in the community but something also needs to be done about the in-patient system. Nurses are demanding more help. Increase our staffing and abandon this regimented punitive system that demands mandated over time on nursing staff! Change the system! Mental Health Nursing is a physically, mentally and emotionally challenging profession and when leaders act as they do not care, by forcing staff to be subjected to such inhumane working conditions how can it possibly get any better? Show us you care by your actions not your words!  

 

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