To the Editor:
I graduated nursing school over thirty years ago. I became a nurse because I wanted make a difference in people’s lives. I was a bedside nurse for 25 years. As time went on, resources available to the bedside nurse became fewer and fewer. I worked on a thirty bed unit and was often the night charge nurse. Not only was I responsible for my own six patient assignment but overseeing all thirty patients under my watch. Most nights I spent running around putting out fires. I felt unable to address my patient’s most basic needs. We were all spread too thin. I used to cry on my way home from work thinking about all the things I wanted to do but was unable because we were not adequately staffed. Our patients needed more than we could give them. The frustration of knowing someone was in pain or alone and afraid and you could not get to them because you were too busy taking care of someone else is a horrific feeling. When I started
crying on the job because we were faced with unreasonable challenges, I knew I had to leave. I was no longer able to do the work I set out to do, make a difference in people’s lives. Not because I am incapable but because the working conditions are inexcusable and we were not managed or staffed appropriately. This results in patients suffering, something I could no longer tolerate. I loved being a bedside nurse. It is still my favorite place to be. However my work had to change. I work in the operating room now, which is a whole new set of challenges. But my most important work is away from the bedside spending time advocating for the patients. I remain committed to making a difference for every patient. It is my personal commitment to help our patients receive the proper care they deserve. I urge you to vote YES on Question One for Safe Patient Limits, so that nurses like me can do the great work the aspired to do.
Mary Havlicek Cornacchia RN BSN
Former bedside nurse