Maternity nurses spar with Munson over shift schedules

Aug 20, 2019

Traverse City nurses in the maternity ward at Munson Medical Center sent a letter to administration expressing dismay with recent schedule changes to their shifts.

Forty-two of the 52 nurses who work in the unit signed the letter before it was sent to the medical center on Aug. 2.

Credit Munson Medical Center

When they didn’t hear back from the nursing administration, they sent the letter to The Joint Commission Office of Quality and Patient Safety — a not-for-profit based in Illinois that monitors health care standards.

The nurses allege that supervisors changed on-call scheduling without informing them after their schedules were already written.

“They’re not taking into regards that these nurses will be working 16 hours repeatedly. That makes it so difficult to give high quality care, and that’s what the nurses want,” said Rebecca Bredahl, an OB nurse at Munson. “We want to come to work every day and know that we can give the best care to our patients.”

Nurses’ schedules at Munson are written in six-week increments. The change in their on-call schedules happened after the schedules were out.

“We did receive a complaint from nurses recently, and nurse managers have been meeting individually with nurses to adjust any scheduling issues that were brought to our attention,” said Munson Spokeswoman Dianne Michalek.

Supervisors didn’t try to fix the problem until nurses physically went to their office to request changes, Bredahl said.

In one case, a nurse was scheduled a 12-hour back-to-back shift with a 16-hour on call shift placed in-between.

“I theoretically could have worked a total of 32 hours in a 36-hour period, which isn’t even possible,” said OB Nurse Katie Grice. “It would’ve given me only four hours of rest time in-between shifts.”

The scheduling issues are on the heels of Munson nurses joining a union with the Michigan Nurses Association. In March, the hospital and the union reached contract agreements after months of hashing out the language and terms.

Contract negotiations started in December 2017.

Munson Medical Center Registered Nurse Carolyn Moss is the president of the union at Munson, and she feels the administration didn’t act fairly or swiftly to address the scheduling concerns.

“The nurses raised those concerns with their manager, with their director, with the Munson OB regional director and with our chief nursing officer, and they have went unanswered,” Moss said.

Some of the nurses' schedules were ratified, but it took hunting down supervisors to ask for changes, the nurses said.