The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 4, 2013

Nurses avert strike

Large turnout ratifies deal

By Robb Murray rmurray@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato voted overwhelmingly Thursday to ratify the latest contract offer from Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.

Exact numbers weren’t available Thursday evening, but Kris Stenzel, one of the union representatives negotiating with Mayo Clinic Health System, said the turnout was very high.

The contract approval ends for now the conflict between the two, and averts the possibility of a nurse’s strike.

Staffing had been the key sticking point. Nurses wanted the hospital to add staff. They also wanted more input into how patients are assessed (to determine their nursing needs) and they wanted to be able to educate charge nurses on the proper way to assess patients.

The hospital had said the concerns raised by nurses were based on an inefficient mode of staffing that didn’t reflect the widely ranging and diverse needs of patients.

It wasn’t clear Thursday if the hospital planned to add more nurses, but said she’s satisfied with the outcome.

“I’m happy that now we’re ready to move forward,” she said. “It’s been a long four months rallying our troops.”

Mayo Clinic Health System issued a statement Thursday night:

“We are pleased that we have reached this agreement with our nurses,” Mayo Clinic Health System’s Ryannon Frederick said. “We look forward to the positive, professional and solution-based input from our nurses, and all our staff members, as we work in the best interest of our patients, their families, the communities we serve and the sustainability of our organization.”

Stenzel said they had three major issues they wanted resolved, and she thinks the hospital accommodated all of them.

Nurses wanted to have the ability to make decisions about patient care at the bedside, and to be able to stop patient intake when patient volumes were getting to a point they weren’t comfortable with.

They also wanted to be able to review the hospital’s staffing models under the acuity-based care system it is moving to. They also wanted training for the charge nurses whose job it is to assess patients in the acuity system.

There are 450 nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.