Joyce McMurphy, RN: An Open Letter to Providence Executives

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After almost 20 years of service to Kadlec, Provi­dence now wants to reward” me by decreasing my PTO accrual hours, cutting nearly two weeks per year. On top of that, they want to desig­nate sick days from my decreased PTO, reducing even more any real time off I could possibly take. It makes me sad to think that all you are looking at is the bottom line, and not how you are affecting my life and how you don’t think I am worthy of the PTO that I am earning after giving Kadlec 20 years of service.

I came to Kadlec as a travel nurse and decided to stay because I really liked the atmos­phere and came to love the people I worked with. I love my patients and their families, but you (Provi­dence manage­ment) are making it harder and harder to love my job. There are manda­tory meetings, commit­tees and educa­tion that I have to come in for on my day off because it is almost impos­sible to attend these during a sched­uled shift. Leaving the unit for an hour or more would double the patient load of another nurse for the time that I am gone, and I don’t think that is accept­able patient care. You expect and want so much from me and yet… you also want and expect to take away so much from me. I need to ask, why is that?

I love nursing, and I know that bedside nursing can be a very stressful job sometimes. I knew that when I started. I knew that I would be working nights, weekends and holidays. I just want to know that when I need my time off to regroup, rest and spend time with my family I will have the time and ability to do so.
— Joyce McMurphy, RN

I love nursing, and I know that bedside nursing can be a very stressful job sometimes. I knew that when I started. I knew that I would be working nights, weekends and holidays. I just want to know that when I need my time off to regroup, rest and spend time with my family I will have the time and ability to do so. I have earned this, and I would like to keep it. I feel like I give and give, and yet all you want to do is take and take more. I am not asking for more time off, I just want to keep what I have, the way I have it. I want you to keep your promises to me. 

Provi­dence Manage­ment let me ask you this: 

Have any of you ever been at the bedside of a family for what was supposed to be the happiest day in their life but sadly turned into the worst? I have. 

Have you ever had to bring a dying infant to its mother so she can know that she got to hold her baby before it took its last breath? I have.

Have any of you ever had to comfort and hold a phone to the ear of a dying patient in ICU because that was the only way his daughter could talk to him for the last time and let him know that as much as she loved him and would miss him, it was okay to go? I have. 

Have any of you ever helped a grand­mother hold and rock her dying grand­child, whose injuries from abuse by the parents were so severe that life support had to be withdrawn? I have.

Have any of you been with a family that has just been told that their child has a syndrome that is incom­pat­ible with life? I have.

Have you ever been cursed at, called names that no one should ever be called and had objects thrown at you by a patient because, due to short staffing, you took too long to answer their call light? I have.

Have you ever been forced to work a second shift when the weather was so bad that the next shift was not able to make it in? I have.

Have you ever received bad news at work but kept it under wraps until you could slip into the bathroom and cry because you needed to give report on the critical patient that was being trans­ported out? I have.

Have you ever worked a shift where you could barely walk due to pain but couldn’t leave because your unit was full and already short nurses, only to find that you were working with a fracture? I have.

Have you ever stayed 14 or 15 hours (maybe longer) because your patient was either so sick or possibly dying and that is how long it took to finish up, give report and say goodbye to the family — because there was a real possi­bility that they would not be there when you came back in the morning. I have.

These memories were my bad days at the office. My bad days at the office are not like yours; my bad days usually mean someone died. This is why I need my PTO. Sometimes I need to help myself so I can go back and face another bad day should that happen.
— Joyce McMurphy, RN

These memories were my bad days at the office. My bad days at the office are not like yours; my bad days usually mean someone died. This is why I need my PTO. Sometimes I need to help myself so I can go back and face another bad day should that happen. I am not alone in this; there are millions of other nurses who have also had bad days.

I and almost every other nurse I know go above and beyond trying to make patients and their families know that they are someone special. I do this because I want my patients and their families to speak well of Kadlec. I do this in the hopes that someone else will not have to have a bad day, and I still do this knowing that you think so little of me as a senior nurse and that I am in a battle with you over my PTO. I will do this if it is you or your family member that I am caring for. I do this because it is who I am.

Yes, with 35 years’ experi­ence in nursing, I do cost the hospital more than a new graduate. Yes, after 35 years (20 at Kadlec) I should accrue more PTO than a new graduate. With those 35 years comes experi­ence and knowl­edge. New graduate nurses are great nurses, but until they get comfort­able in their nursing role there should always be an experi­enced nurse working beside them. 

Provi­dence Kadlec is not the Kadlec it was 20 years ago — or even five years ago. The old Kadlec respected their senior employees. Now it seems Provi­dence would like to see us all leave and increase their profit margin even more by only rewarding new hires and new gradu­ates. If the CEO of PROFI­TENCE can make millions of dollars ($10 million a year), why can’t I keep my PTO and still accrue sick time? I believe patients come first, and if Provi­dence believed that too, they would respect those who give their skill and their hearts to caring for patients every day.