Department of Health Secretary “Not Prepared” for Staffing Crisis Meeting with AFSCME
The state’s response today was non-committal when asked if the agency would work
with Department of Health AFSCME members to implement changes that would retain employees, protect staff and improve patient care. Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader said, “Uh huh,” but offered no strategic plan to find a resolution when asked if he would address the concerns brought forth by AFSCME members. He even said he was “not prepared” to answer questions about the staffing crisis, forced overtime and assaults on staff.
AFSCME members concluded staffing meetings this morning in Annapolis. Ahead of contract negotiations this fall, members met with agency representatives about ongoing concerns and workplace issues that have a negative impact on morale, public safety and staff retention. Despite having weeks to prepare, the state didn’t bring any new or innovative ideas
to the table about how to address the staffing crisis in the Department of Health.
Here’s a rundown of our agenda and demands:
- Due to the staffing crisis, overtime is up leading to long shifts for workers.
They spend less time with their families and have a diminished quality of life.
- Members said they often work 16-hour days, experiencing extreme
fatigue and emotional distress.
- When employees are overworked, it leads to diminished quality of care
for patients and safety issues.
- Pay inequities across facilities make it harder for the department to recruit
and retain qualified employees. We demanded an increase in pay for workers to draw in new staff while retaining existing staff.
- A majority of state-run hospitals are getting forensic admissions, but they aren’t designated as forensic hospitals. Members demanded that the state designate
them as such, and properly staff the facilities.
- Members demanded pay equity for staff in forensic hospitals.
- Members demanded officers on 1st and 2nd shift in all hospitals, posted in
the units to ensure the safety of staff, patients and visitors.
Members also made recommendations for improving staffing including: establishing a patient transportation unit, promoting the use of self-scheduling for shift coverage and having managers take over preceptor roles to train incoming unit staff.