State of Ohio Nurses With OhioMHAS Sound the Alarm on Low Staffing and Unsafe Conditions at Mental Health Facilities Across Ohio

Nurses with OhioMHAS who work in mental health facilities across Ohio say that under staffing has created unsafe conditions and that this puts both staff and patients at-risk of serious injury.

For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 20th, 2020.
For more information, contact: Joshua Norris at (877) 419-7348.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Union nurses who are members of SEIU District 1199 say that they are working under difficult conditions with severe staffing shortages on a daily basis. While some staffing issues and difficult work conditions pre-existed the COVID19 pandemic, nurses report that such challenges have now gotten significantly worse.

“Nurses with the OhioMHAS are being forced to work short staffed. In one instance, a nurse maintains that she was tasked with caring for as many as 28 patients at one time. Many of these patients had a severe diagnosis. While providing such care is difficult with 2-3 nurses per unit, most recently, 1 nurse has often been assigned per unit to provide care,” said Joshua Norris, an Executive Vice President with SEIU District 1199. “Nurses contend with a variety of challenges, including the possibility of being threatened or assaulted. Short staffing increases the risk of such conditions, not only to nurses but those for whom they provide care. It is not a question of if these conditions will result in a bad outcome such as harm to staff and patients – low staffing ratios make this inevitable.”

Nurses with the OhioMHAS work 12 hour shifts, which can be exhausting physically and mentally, making hazardous conditions even more volatile. Additionally, these nurses also now face potential exposure to COVID19.

“The State of Ohio is well aware of staffing issues at OhioMHAS medical facilities and refuses to hire and retain staff to address these concerns. It is bad enough that the State of Ohio initiated mandatory pay cuts and freezes on the non-Union staff, but now non-bargaining unit staff are using this as a vehicle to attack Union employees,” Norris continued. “Nurses have reported that managerial staff have told members of SEIU District 1199 that because they did not give up pay or make monetary concessions, they now must face short staffing and dangerous situations – this is completely unacceptable. Members with the Union do not have enough staff, enough PPE, or enough relief time, such as time each shift to grab a quick bite to eat. These nurses work tirelessly and give their absolute best every day. The State of Ohio must provide ample staff to keep nurses and patients safe. The State of Ohio must hire adequate staff to ensure that such nurses are able to return home each night without the prospect of serious injury or harm to themselves or those for whom they provide care.”

SEIU District 1199 represents nurses who provide health care services on behalf of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. 

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