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General Sep 20, 2021
Staff Shortages and Workplace Violence

Dear RNPA Members,

As you know, RNPA is launching a campaign to improve workplace safety. Although staffing issues have plagued the County for years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has driven the staffing crisis to new levels.

With over 315 open codes in our County, safe staffing is becoming a crisis. In addition, there have been many more incidences of workplace violence. As a County hospital, we treat everyone. We deserve to be safe while doing our jobs.

Please review the action plan put forth by RNPA to address the needs of our County’s nurses. We hope to implement solutions that will continue to protect our nurses for years to come.

In Solidarity,

The RNPA Board of Directors

RNPA Action Plan

Background

The United States is amid a critical nursing shortage that is expected to continue through 2030 due to an aging workforce, aging “baby-boomers” in need of care, and a limited supply of nurses. As the second largest County-owned health and hospital system in California serving 1.8 million people, Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System (SCVHHS) is the safety net of our community.

SCVHHS staffing is worsening with the growing demand and competition for hiring Registered Nurses in the Valley, the State of California as well as on the national front. Nurses are burnt out, retiring early, or leaving the system to neighboring facilities where the salaries are more competitive, and the workload is less.  In addition, nurses are now faced with an additional worry, the increase in workplace violence. Nurses often take the brunt of angry or unstable patients and/or families since they’re on the front lines interacting directly with them. More so since the beginning of the pandemic, nurses have experienced an increase in assaults.  

As a result, we are asking for your help to protect our nurses, patients, and the community. Santa Clara County’s current hiring process is slow and incapable of meeting the demand of our growing enterprise and staffing needs.  As a result of the current system, Santa Clara County cannot hire nurses quickly enough nor can they recruit experienced nurses or retain them. Where other facilities take one month or less to hire and onboard, the County’s process can easily take 3 to 6 months.  Please be aware that that this is not a new problem, short staffing has been a chronic problem prior to the Pandemic.  It has just now been further exacerbated and that’s why we need your help.

Action

  1. Approve referral to [Administration and/or County Counsel] to report to the Board with options for consideration relating to?
    • Hire an outside firm to expedite the recruitment and hiring for all RNPA represented classifications for a 48-month period
    • Hire an outside firm to perform an evaluation of the current County recruitment and hiring process for all RNPA represented classifications
    • Based on evaluation findings, make recommendations to improve the current recruitment and hiring processes.
    • Consider recommendations on a retention plan for Registered Nurses working throughout the SCVHHS.

       
  2. Approve referral to [Administration and/or County Counsel] to report to the Board with options for consideration relating to [identify and implement three primary projects to increase retention of nurses, such as assigning a team to evaluate nursing step placement relative to experience and training and prioritizing nurse realignment requests].
  • Assign a team to perform a study of neighboring hospitals relative to their recruitment and hiring process specific to timeframe of the position postings to onboarding.
  • Assign a team to evaluate how the County can support the progression of Extra Help and Per Diem by prioritizing them into coded positions
  • Assign a team to evaluate how the County can evaluate nursing step placement relative to experience and training and prioritizing nurse realignment requests.

     
  1. Approve referral to [Administration and/or County Counsel] to report to the Board with options for consideration relating to [crafting and implementing a tangible and responsive project plan to address workplace violence in the County's hospitals and clinics by engaging and outside firm to conduct a thorough assessment and placing necessary financial resources in a designated reserve for this purpose to be available over the next five years
  • Hospital-based behavioral response team development
  • Increase the presence of Protective Service Officers (PSO) across the Enterprise System
  • Work in conjunction with RNPA to make assaults against Registered Nurses a felony by including it on the County of Santa Clara’s State Legislative Priorities. (22 states have legislation regarding this already)
  • Increased transparency in (SI) reporting
  • Continue and build on staff education, development, and training related to workplace violence and de-escalation techniques.

 

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RNPA
950 South Bascom Avenue, suite 2120
San Jose, California 95128
  4082926061

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