More than a dozen protest Univ. of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics over patient to nurse ratio

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 7:53 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - More than a dozen people protested patient-to-nurse ratios at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Thursday morning.

The demonstration happened after an email from a nursing manager, which TV9 obtained, warned nurses about possibly increasing the number of patients a nurse visits due to low staffing levels. The manager, whose name is Abby Lewis, also described the staffing challenges as “rough” from October to mid-November.

“Our staffing along with all of ISS, MSS, and BHS is going to be some of the most challenging that it has been,” she wrote. “The ICUs have made plans to triple patients that have orders for the floor.”

Ashley Lynn, who said she worked at UIHC for about 8 years, said nurses currently take care of four patients. She said if the hospital adds an additional person to her workload, it would affect her ability to provide a high level of quality care because some of her patients need more care.

“The most frustrating part about this is that it affects the patient, you know,” Lynn said. “Yes, I would be stressed. Would I make it through my 12-hour shift? Yes. But would I feel good going home about the care I gave? No.”

Job postings online indicate the hospital is looking to fill 380 nursing positions and is offering sign-on incentives to some applicants worth up to $10,000. The hospital allows people to work extra shifts or hires travel nurses to help with the staffing shortage.

The nurses at the protest believe the hospital is decreasing the number of travel nurses based on talk among employees. Those at the demonstration are also frustrated with the hospital’s plans to increase patients, according to the email from a nursing manager, while recognizing the staffing shortage.

A University spokesperson said in a written statement the hospital is not increasing patients as it is operating at full capacity. But, couldn’t provide specifics on the number of travel nurses working at UIHC during October or November.

Kimberly Hunter, who is the interim chief executive officer and chief nursing executive at UIHC, said in a written statement the hospital is committed to providing safe and high-quality care. She also said staffing needs at the hospital are flexible.

“In health care, staffing is flexible and we safely match resources with constantly changing patient care needs,” Hunter said. “We are grateful for our nursing and care teams who come together to support one another as they care for our patients and their families.”

TV9 also received a copy of an email the hospital system sent to employees yesterday. It reminds staff it could bring up concerns over staffing at a forum with the hospital’s interim CEO scheduled for next week.