Trueblood v. DSHS

The Trubeblood v. DSHS case ordered the following: DSHS can no longer define its own time to assess patients.  DSHS must provide a seven day assessment of a patient within the signing of a court order (in jail) or MUST immediately admit the individual to a state hospital that will be conducting the evaluation.  

New wards must be opened immediately.  There is a severe RN shortage to prevent this from occurring.  RN’s and doctors are severely underpaid and there have been MANY vacancies resulting.  Recent actions by the CEO removed comp time from RN’s and caused RN’s to work frequently out of job class.  State Hospitals are currently a hostile work environment for any RN or health care professional.  The situation is so severe that agency doctors and RN’s must fill the void.

RN’s and Physicians require a minimum of a 20% market adjustment to compete with the private sector.  Physicians and RN’s are in great shortage within DSHS.  Collective Bargaining is a great contributing factor to the situation.  Under current collective bargaining, ALL positions are  treated equally even though some positions require SUBSTANTIAL wage increases above other positions.  This is particularly true in the case of physicians and RN’s.

At this time physicians and RN’s will be contracted out by agencies for DSHS at SUBSTANTIALLY increased wages versus increasing current DSHS employee to wages to that which are comparable to the private sector.  How is this possible?  DSHS (as Government) views funding to be from “other budgets” if other “Agencies” are involved.  This is why RN’s work 15 minutes more per day (uncompensated) than other overtime eligible classifications (or eight work days more per year in time worked than any other overtime eligible classification).  This situation is just as attributable to the RN Labor Union as it is to DSHS itself…   Both are to blame.  What is important is the ACTUAL amount payed versus the budget that is accessed.  For instance, annual time used within DSHS is not tracked as a budgetary concern while sick time is…  Yet unscheduled time absent within DSHS is not tracked at all.

The Joint Nurse Staffing Committee of Western State Hospital received statistics that indicated that each ward and each shift within Western State Hospital requires one additional RN2 FTE and MHT FTE to meet current acuity “base staffing” requirements.  In addition some wards require additional staff to meet the requirement of three RN2 FTE’s per ward per shift and three LPN FTE’s per ward per shift to meet the basic staffing requirement.  This amount will require an approximate additional requirement of 150 additional FTE’s at Western State Hospital which have never been requested by the CEO.  While each ward requires currently six staff per day, only five are provided per day (on average) with current full time positions.

The CEO has substantially increased “on call” personnel to skew the statistics.  On Call personnel work only several days a week (not five days a week as does a full time position).  Recently nursing supervisors (RN3’s) worked “out of job class" for more than 50% of the time “as a ward body” to skew overtime statistics for Olympia in the month of March, 2015.  During this period no supervisory functions occurred.  All competency assessments were canceled as were almost all classes for employees.  The CEO ordered that Western State Hospital shut down ALL normal operations in order to produce skewed overtime statistics for the month of March 2015.  Nothing that occurred in the month of March 2015 was a part of NORMAL operations.

It is time that Olympia learned the truth.  Physicians and RN’s require a market adjustment in wages in order to compete with the private sector in order to provide the services our Constitution requires.  This funding must come now or two years from now the State Hospital system will no longer exist.  

© Paul Vilja 2017