Cincinnati hospital nurses warn new CNO of staffing crisis, patient safety concerns

Amid contract negotiations with Cincinnati-based UC Health, nurses at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center sent their newly appointed chief nursing officer a letter this week that requests solutions to staffing shortages and improvements to patient care, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

The Registered Nurses Association, which is the nurses' bargaining unit, sent the letter to Beverly Bokovitz, DNP, RN, who joined UC Health as CNO April 18. The union is currently engaging in its second month of talks with UC Health on a new work contract. The contract focuses on the medical center's nursing shortage.

The union delivered nearly 1,000 copies of the form letter to Dr. Bokovitz' office June 6. "As a nurse here, I care deeply for my patients and ask you to partner with us in your capacity at the contract negotiating table in fostering an environment of first-class patient care," the letter reads.

The letter requests that Dr. Bokovitz advocate for the staff's solutions to the medical center’s problem areas, including giving nurses better benefits to reduce turnover rates and having more nurses on staff to handle heavier patient loads.

Kelly Hickman-Begley, RN, a labor-and-delivery nurse and one of the contract negotiators for the nurses, said the negotiations are making progress toward a new contract that would cover about 1,500 nurses. The current three-year deal expires June 30, the report noted.

"From the very beginning, the hospital and our negotiating team have been in complete agreement that patient safety is our main priority," Ms. Hickman-Begley told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "Anytime you are negotiating with someone, if you have the same goal in mind, if you're working toward the same goal, negotiations go better."

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