152 nursing schools face closure for poor board performance

By Rainier Allan Ronda
A total of 152 nursing schools face closure for registering poor passing percentages in the nursing licensure examinations over the past five years.

However, Emmanuel Angeles, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman, said the 152 nursing schools will be given another chance in next year’s nursing examinations.

“It’s a warning for them,” he said.

“This is a wake-up call to our nursing schools to shape up or phase out. They are challenged to improve their quality.”

The 152 nursing schools were found to have performed below the national passing rate of 46.14 percent for the past five years, Angeles said.

Metro Manila has the most number of erring schools among the 152 poor performing schools: Arellano University-Manila, Arellano University-Pasay, De Los Santos-STI College, De Ocampo Memorial College, Dominican College, Dr. Carlos S. Lanting College, Emilio Aguinaldo College, J.P. Sioson General Hospital and Colleges, La Consolacion College Manila, Las Piñas College, Martinez Memorial College, Mary Chiles College, Olivarez College, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay, Perpetual Help College of Manila, Philippine College of Health Sciences, Philippine Rehabilitation Institute Foundation, Southeast Asian College, St. Jude College, St. Rita Hospital College of Nursing and School of Midwifery, STI College-Recto, the Family Clinic, Unciano Colleges and General Hospital, University of Perpetual Help-Rizal, and World Citi Colleges, Quezon City.

Calabarzon has 23 schools in the list; Central Luzon, 20; Ilocos Region, 16; Bicol, 14; SOCCSKSARGEN, 8; Northern Mindanao, 7; Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao Region and Cordillera Administrative Region, 6; Cagayan Valley and Central Visayas, 5; CARAGA Region, 3; and Eastern Visayas and Mimaropa Region, 1.

Earlier, Angeles said 177 nursing schools were found to have poorly performed in the nursing licensure examinations.

“To be fair to all the schools, we had to do a lot of verification,” he said.

Angeles said any mistake might cause unnecessary worry among students and parents and harm the reputation of the schools wrongfully identified.

Among the 152 schools, nine had already stopped offering their nursing course, and five schools had stopped operation altogether, Angeles said.

Next year, CHED will enforce a rule that schools whose performance in licensure examinations is below five percent for three consecutive years would have their permits revoked and their concerned program phased out.

Angeles said CHED is determined to crack down on poorly performing schools to ensure that higher education institutions offer quality education.

“With this move, we are helping not only the parents and students to carefully choose the nursing schools they go to, but we are helping our economy by minimizing frustrations and wastage among our nursing graduates when they take the licensure exams and make sure that they only get quality education from schools that prioritize quality by adhering to world class standards that we are now imposing,” he said.

Angeles said CHED is now looking into poorly performing maritime schools.

The PRC has given them a list of 38 maritime schools that fared poorly in licensure examinations, he added.

CHED will also check maritime schools offering accounting programs, Angeles said.

Group seeks Saudi exemption from exams for RP nurses

By JC Bello Ruiz
The Philippine government should ask Saudi Arabia to exempt Filipino nurses from the requirement to take the “prometric” exam to work in the country, the Migrante-Middle East said Friday, noting that the oil-rich country is the one that needs the services of Filipino nurses.

Migrante said the new qualifying exam required by the Saudi government is “an additional burden to Filipino nurses going to the Mideast.”

“The implementation of this new Saudi labor policy should not only be delayed, but should not be implemented at all by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Manalili had earlier asked Saudi Arabia to delay the implementation of the prometric exam, the equivalent to the licensure exam taken by nurses in the Philippines, to allow the government to prepare procedures for RP nurses planning to work in the Middle East countries to meet the new requirement.

“The POEA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) should demand from the Saudi government the non-implementation of the prometric exam as it is only an additional burden to our already low-paid OFW nurses hoping to land a job in Saudi. And the POEA/DOLE would be in a better position to negotiate its non-implementation as it is the Saudi government that needs our OFW nurses,” Monterona said.

“Even if it is to be shouldered by respective employers, the amount will eventually be passed on to the hired nurses by deducting the amount from their salary, like the US$25 Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership fee which should be paid by the employers, but being charged by OWWA to every departing OFW,” he added.

Monterona warned that the prometric exam would face “stiff” opposition from OFW nurses.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for OFW nurses, according to the POEA. Last year 7,955 nurses were deployed from 6,266 in 2007.

The prometric exam is now required by the Saudi Council for Health Specialties before one could work as a nurse in Saudi Arabia.

The exam may be taken in Saudi or in test venues in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the accredited testing center is Thomson Prometric, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 H. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.

The examination is scheduled Tuesday up to Friday, with a fee of $90.

Pinoy nurses fill vacancies in specialised areas in UK hospitals


by Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau, London

SALISBURY, England - The United Kingdom nursing work force is ageing and British nurses are leaving the country to work in the United States and in recent years, in Australia.


These are some of the contributing factors for the shortage of qualified nurses in the UK both in the National Health Service or NHS and the private sector.

The UK faces the so-called graying of the population of the nursing work force and the younger ones are not interested in the nursing profession because they have more options for jobs that offer better pay and working condition. Those who leave the county to work elsewhere are driven by better pay and living conditions.

This is not the first time the UK has to deal with this problem. In the past, it has also turned to foreign nurses to do the job its peoples have pushed aside and snubbed.

Pinoy nurses for export

While the UK is in need of more nurses, the Philippines continues to produce nurses for export. Philippines is one of the biggest suppliers of overseas nurses to the UK, trailing behind is India, Britain’s former colony. UK’s overseas recruitment of nurses was criticized by the Brits because it is said to be designed as a short-term solution although it has helped the UK health sector manage the crisis.

The Salisbury District Hospital in Salisbury also turned to overseas recruitment to fill the vacancies in the hospital. Recently, it recruited some 17 OR (operating room) or theatre nurses from the Philippines.

“In the past two years our experience advertising for theatre nurses nationally and in Europe had very little success. Our reliance on agency nurses was high. We have now filled our vacancies in theatres, however we do have to look to the future and plan the workforce. There are a number of retirements in the next five years and recruitment will continue. Having established the current workforce we intend to recruit in this country and Europe,” said Colette Martindale, Surgical Directorate of Salisbury District Hospital.

She said there is no plan for another trip to the Philippines, however, that could also change. She also added that there is no preference over Filipino nurses but they chose to go to the Philippines this year because they knew ‘there was a reliable field of candidates.’

“There are still a high number of unemployed nurses in the Philippines. We have recruited from there in the past and we know the quality of work is good and the retention rate is good,” she added.

Nurses in specialized areas

Outside of any particular specialties, nursing has been removed from the ‘shortage occupation list’ by the UK Home Office. This means that employers with band 5 and 6 nursing posts have to prove that the vacancies could not be filled by nurses who are residents or nationals of the UK or of countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Salisbury District Hospital has advertised the vacancies for 2 years but there were no takers from the UK and from EEA.

The gold mine that the UK has found in the Philippines in early 2000 is still an attractive source to this date, providing work force for the UK health sector.

The 17 nurses that filled the vacancies at the Salisbury District Hospital have now started the Overseas Nursing Program. Nurses who were trained outside the EEA are required to pass the program and be registered at the Nursing and Midwifery Council or NMC.

“We have to undergo the classes and we have two days study at City College London. Nagpupunta sila dito. Para talagang school. Para ma-meet namin yun standards of nursing dito. At saka may different laws here as compared sa Pilipinas. Ang dami ditong laws na nagpo-protect sa patients so kailangan naming malaman yun,” said 24 -year- old Cathleen Lagtapon.

A pittance of a salary back home

Nursing work in the UK has always been attractive to Pinoy nurses because of the significant increase in their salary once they work in the UK.

“That’s one of the reasons I took up nursing because I wanted to work outside of the country. I really want to experience the hi-tech operations to further my career as an OR nurse,” said Lagtapon.

She was working as an OR nurse in Bacolod City earning a salary of P9,000 a month. As a nurse in training in the UK, she would receive a salary of 18,000 pounds annually or around P122,000 per month. Once registered with the NMC, there will be an increase of up to £5,000 in her annual salary.

Raising three children and working for a government hospital in the Philippines, Reynaldo Boy decided it was time to go where the grass was greener.

“Kasi nung una okay naman ang work ko sa Pilipinas. Since nasa government naman ako, ayos naman ang suweldo. Then later, nag high school na anak ko, I began to think na parang kulang ang kikitain ko dun,” he said.

With so many nurses in the Philippines seeking employment abroad, he considers himself lucky. He said however that as a father, there are trade-offs. He now has to get used to the long distance parenting set-up he has conceived for him and his children.

“Hindi ko na sila mababantayan dun. [Pero] yun naman talaga ang purpose nung pumunta ako dito to give them a better life. Pag nakapag-ipon ako, pwede kong makuha sila. Kung di ko man makuha, yung naipon ko, pwede kong ipadala sa kanila para sa studies nila-- to give them a better future, para makapag -aral sila, maging good citizen din some day,” he added.

Work ethics and family values are just some of the qualities that endear Pinoys to their British employers.

‘Compassionate, caring and hard working’

“I have found the Filipino nurses to be caring, compassionate, intelligent and hard working. They treat patients with respect and kindness. They have strong family values and they are driven to protect and provide for their families. Once adapted into the culture and way of life in a UK hospital they are encouraged to develop and become leaders in the future,” said Colette Martindale.

For Lagtapon and Boy, the opportunity to work abroad, to further their career as nursing professionals and provide a better future for their families are now happening. They are very grateful for this chance and the fact that unlike many others who came here, they didn’t even pay an exorbitant amount. They said their dream to work in the UK only cost them P15,000 for fees. But whatever social cost the nurses have to contend with in the future, for now they are happy.

“I want to keep pinching myself kung nandito talaga ako,” said Lagtapon.

Filipino nurses eye UK, Middle East markets

Filipino nurses are reportedly choosing other countries over the United States for employment. “The deepening recession in America has clearly diminished the desire of some Filipino nurses to seek employment there,” said former senator Ernesto Herrera, secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

Herrera said that a total of 8,272 Filipino nurses sought to practice their profession in the US by taking the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX for the first time from January to June. 

The figure, according to Herrera, was 1,565 fewer compared to the 9,837 who took the exam in the same six-month period in 2008.

Pinoy nurses are reportedly trying out other foreign labor markets particularly the United Kingdom and the Middle East.

“Actually, fewer nurses from India, Korea, Canada and Cuba are seeking US jobs as well,” Herrera said.

Nurses from India who took the NCLEX for the first time in the first semester were down 56 percent (to 750 from 1,715). Those from South Korea were down 35 percent (to 613 from 934); from Canada down 36 percent (to 314 from 494); and from Cuba down 38 percent (to 192 from 309).

The TUCP said that the four countries are the other top suppliers of foreign nurses to America.

In the whole of 2008, there were a total of 20,746 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time or down 3.5 percent compared to the 21,299 Pinoy nurses that took the test for the first time in 2007.

Filipino accounted for 37 percent of the 22,500 foreign-educated nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time in the first semester, according to Herrera.

The Philippines now has some 600,000 nurses actively looking for jobs here and abroad, or forced to perform work outside their profession. They include the 99,837 who passed the local nursing licensure examinations from July 2008 to July 2009.

The government tapped 10,000 of the Filipino nurses and deployed them under the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS). It allows nurses to serve in the country’s depressed municipalities for six months in return for a monthly allowance of P8,000. - via www.abs-cbnnews.com

Immigration: More Foreign Nurses Needed?

The U.S. nurse shortage is getting worse, but are more visas the answer—or would improved training capacity, working conditions, and pay do the trick?


For more than a decade, the U.S. has faced a shortage of nurses to staff hospitals and nursing homes. While the current recession has encouraged some who had left the profession to return, about 100,000 positions remain unfilled. Experts say that if more is not done to entice people to enter the field—and to expand the U.S.'s nurse-training capacity—that number could triple or quadruple by 2025. President Barack Obama's goal of expanding health coverage to millions of the uninsured could also face additional hurdles if the supply of nurses can't meet the demand. 

Some lawmakers are looking to the immigration pipeline as one means to raise staffing levels. In May, Representative Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) introduced a bill that would allow 20,000 additional nurses to enter the U.S. each year for the next three years as a temporary measure to fill the gap. If the bill doesn't pass on its own, lawmakers may include it in a comprehensive immigration reform package. Obama is slated to meet with congressional leaders on June 25 to discuss reforming U.S. immigration laws. 

Hospital administrators such as William R. Moore in El Centro, Calif., a sparsely populated town 100 miles east of San Diego, see the Wexler bill as a potential life raft. Moore is chief human resources director at El Centro Regional Medical Center, a 135-bed public hospital that typically has 30 open positions for registered nurses (RNs). While it's hard to lure nurses from nearby big cities (San Diego is 100 miles west), Moore says he could quickly recruit dozens of eager, qualified nurses from the Philippines if the government allocated more visas. "All we want is temporary relief," says Moore. "Let us get a group of experienced RN hires from the Philippines, and we won't ask for more."

Proposed program wants barangay health workers trained as nurses, doctors

By Candice Dominique Montenegro - GMANews.TV


Citing the continued exodus of Filipino doctors and nurses for jobs abroad, two lawmakers are proposing a program that would train barangay volunteers as health professionals.

House Bill 6536, authored by Akbayan party-list Representatives Risa Hontiveros and Walden Bello, seeks to establish the “Bibong BHW Education and Training Program” to train barangay health workers not just as midwives and physical therapists but also as doctors and nurses.

An explanatory note of the bill said tapping over 1.3 million front line workers across the nation would help address the crisis facing the Philippine health delivery system, as manifested in the closure of 200 hospitals during the past three years and partial closing of 800 more hospitals due to lack of doctors and nurses.

“That the Philippine health sector is experiencing a brain drain is no hidden fact,” said the bill, noting that between 1994 and 2003 alone around 85,000 Filipino nurses went abroad, while 3,000 doctors left the country as nurses from 2000 to 2005 and an additional 3,000 enrolled in nursing schools in 2006.

In a statement, Hontiveros also said that training local health volunteers is a better alternative to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s plan to import foreign health professionals to replace the 3,000 doctors who left in 2000-2005.

She added that the program is not only strategically in line with other health reform bills by the government but is also timely and urgent, especially with the pandemic outbreak of the A(H1N1) virus.

“Kapag nahaharap sa pandemic, mas-tumitindi ang sitwasyon dahil sa phenomenon ng labor migration ng health professionals [When faced with a pandemic, the situation becomes more grave because of the labor migration phenomenon of health professionals],” she said.

‘Step ladder’ training

As proposed, the Bibong BHW Program will follow the “step ladder” training program the University of the Philippines has initiated. 

The first step is a mandatory basic training on community health care delivery, while the second step is a more comprehensive training on community health care where they could specialize in midwifery, occupational therapy, pharmacology and so on.

The next two steps are more rigorous and specialized. The third step allows BHWs to take courses required in becoming a licensed nurse.

After finishing the 15-month program, volunteers will be eligible to take the Nursing Licensure Board Examination.

The fourth step allows BHWs to take another five-year program that includes courses on Medicine. Completion of this program will allow the volunteer to take the licensure exams for doctors.

The Bibong BHW Program bill also includes benefits for BHWs, such as full scholarships and socialized subsidies for the training, mandatory PhilHealth membership for all accredited BHWs, as well as an increase in their allowance from the current P500-P850 per month to a standard P4,500.

Teng Icoy, vice president for internal affairs of BHWs in the National Capital Region, said that the program could help volunteers like him become better at what they do. A community health worker who has been practicing reflexology for 13 years, Icoy says that the program will attract more people to become health volunteers.

“Walang age requirement para maging volunteer [there is no age requirement in becoming a volunteer],” he said. “As long as they undergo the basic course and their heart is in it, they can become barangay health workers.”

Saudi Arabia needs 1,000 female nurses in government hospitals

 

By Mayen Jaymalin - phlistar.com
More jobs overseas await Filipino nurses and other professional workers, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported recently.

POEA chief Jennifer Manalili said the Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is in urgent need of female nurses to fill some 1,000 positions in its government hospitals.

Manalili said the Ministry of Health offers benefits that include annual paid vacation, free economy round trip ticket, housing and transportation allowance, and yearly renewal of contract.

“Qualified nurses may personally submit their documents at the Manpower Registry Division, Window M at the ground floor lobby of the POEA building in Ortigas Avenue corner EDSA in Mandaluyong City,” Manalili added.

Applicants should be licensed nurses with at least one (1) year hospital experience, and should not be more than 45 years old.

Manalili said the Saudi Ministry of Finance is also looking for three communication engineers, three architects, and three electrical engineers. Applicants must be male, not more than 50 years old, with 8-10 years work experience, and have valid licenses in their fields of work.

Benefits include housing and transportation allowance equivalent to two months salary, yearly renewal of contract, and free economy round trip ticket.

Applicants for engineer and architect positions have until June 26 to submit the same documents to the POEA.

UK still needs more Filipina nurses and caregivers

 

By Danny Buenafe - www.abs-cbnnews.com
Despite the global crisis, Filipina nurses and caregivers are still in demand in the United Kingdom.

Even nurses who have not taken the board exams can qualify to work in a UK-based caring home.

The good part is that the British Embassy in Manila has shortened the processing of UK work and student visas. What used to be a three- to four-month processing can now be over in just four to six weeks.

Consul General Teresa de Vega and British Ambassador Designate Stephen Lillie were exclusively interviewed by the ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.

“Meron naman po demand para sa mga nurses, para sa ibang skilled professionals,” said de Vega.

“I think it’s obviously an area of opportunity. How many people will be recruited obviously has to be determined by the health service here in accordance with points-based system,” added Ambassador Designate Lillie.

The Caring Career Training (CCT) Company is one of the four legitimate recruiters of Filipina nurses and carers into the UK through a student visa. It requires a minimum two-year school training.

The nurses and carers receive a monthly modest pay, which progresses depending on their performance at the assigned caring home.

Almost 200 nurses had already been recruited by CCT, and they appear to be happy with the training facilities and accommodation.

“May mga paperworks talaga. May mga workbooks, mga sasagutan,,, related naman sa work,” commented Joanne Timbol.

“Naghahanap din sila ng mga work plans namin pero hindi naman kami pinapabayaan,” said Sheila Gonzaga.

But CCT clarified that there is an initial corresponding free of 3,500 pounds (P300,000) to cover training, food and accommodation expenses including the visa.

This does not yet cover the plane fare which the applicant has to pay.

Jay Mariano, CCT overseas director, said, “In the Philippines, we do not receive the money. What happens is that they do the transactions straight to the UK. Para po may receipt sila .”

Based on statistics, there is an annual increase of 10 percent in the manpower requirements of UK caring homes. Unlike in the Philippines, the population of adults is much higher in the UK.

Apart from nurses, the Philippine Embassy said there is also a demand for plumbers and electricians.

More than 100 nursing schools open despite government ban

By Andrew Jonathan Bagaoisan And Mark Angelo Ching Vera Files 

First of two parts 

Nursing schools all over the country will be opening their doors this week to thousands of students with the great white cap dream—getting a nursing degree, working in a hospital abroad, and earning a comfortable living. 

But not all these schools are qualified to offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. In fact, some of them were supposed to have been shut down years ago for failing to meet the requirements of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), while some new ones were not supposed to have opened at all. 

The fact is, many students are spending their parents’ hard-earned money on substandard nursing education because the commission has been unable to weed out the poorly performing nursing schools. 

In 2004, the commission declared a moratorium on the opening of more nursing schools after professional nurses complained that nursing schools were sprouting like mushrooms, even as more students were failing the nursing licensure exams. The problem reached tipping point in 2006 when news of a leakage in the exams made headlines. 

But political and business pressures exerted on the commission have been preventing it from effectively regulating nursing schools and closing down those that perform badly. 

Commission records show that from 2004 to 2007, more than 120 schools began offering nursing courses compared to only 98 new schools in the same time span before the moratorium. A total of 459 nursing schools operate in the country today. 

The agency’s officials revealed that the Commission even allowed more schools to open by continually processing pending applications. As recent as August 2008, the agency exempted certain schools from the moratorium through a verbal agreement among the commissioners. The Commission did not make this agreement public. Even now, a number of schools are reportedly applying to open, one of them with up to 17 new campuses.

Online registration for 2nd batch of NARS Project on

On line registration for the second batch of the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) project is now on-going, said Labor and Employment 6 Director Aida Estabillo.

“We have started the online application this early to give unemployed nurses ample time to apply,” said Estabillo in a DOLE 6 press report.

Interested unemployed nurses may file their application on line at http//www.nars.dole.gov.ph or at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Provincial Offices nearest them.

For the 2nd batch of the NARS program, DOLE 6 said some 480 unemployed nurses will be hired to be deployed in rural areas of the region that would start on October 1.

A total of 408 nurse-trainees were hired in the 1st batch of the program who are now deployed in the rural areas of the 6 provinces of the region until September 30, according to DOLE 6.

Of the 408 nurse-trainees hired, 72 were assigned in the province of Aklan, 42 in Antique, 55 in Capiz, 14 in Guimaras, 138 in Iloilo and 87 in Negros Occidental.

The NARS Project is in line with the pump-priming strategies of the government aimed at mitigating the effects of global economic slowdown through the creation of employment. This was launched by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during the Multi-Sectoral Summit against Global Crisis held in Malacanang last February.

Under the program, the nurse-trainees will be deployed at an average of five per town in 96 identified poorest municipalities in the region and will be getting an allowance of P8,000 per month.

The NARS is a joint project of the DOLE, Department of Health, Professional Regulations Commission.

Recently, the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), the country’s largest pharmaceutical group composed of 50 Filipino and international research-based pharmaceutical firms, has agreed to sponsor the deployment of the 100 nurses in support of the President’s call to make the NARS project a national undertaking with private equity. - via (PIA)

Pharmaceutical group backs PGMA’s NARS project

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) today (Thursday) will present to the President a copy of their memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) on the deployment of an additional 100 nurses to beef up the 5,000 nurses already deployed to 20 other poor municipalities under the Nurses Assigned in Rural Service (NARS) project.

The signatories, who will present to the President a copy of the MOA, are Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, PRC Commissioner Nicolas Lapena Jr., PHAP President Oscar Calderon and PHAP Executive Director Reiner Gloor.

PHAP, the country’s largest pharmaceutical group composed of 50 Filipino and international research-based pharmaceutical firms, has agreed to sponsor the deployment of the 100 nurses in support of the President’s call to make the NARS project a national undertaking with private equity.
The President said the NARS project would provide quality healthcare services in rural areas while giving unemployed registered nurses the opportunity to train and gain the necessary competencies needed for employment here and abroad.

Under the MOA, the PHAP agreed to shoulder the P8,000 monthly allowance of the 100 nurse-trainees who will be recruited under the NARS project.
PHAP, through its PHAP Cares Foundation, will also donate medicines, first aid kits and other items to DOH hospitals covered under the NARS project.
Under the NARS project, the first batch of 5,000 nurse-trainees was deployed last month on a six-month tour of duty to the 1,000 poorest municipalities.
Another batch of 5,000 nurses will be deployed to poor municipalities during the second half of this year. - via (PIA)

PRC ordered to hear case vs review center official in nursing licensure exam mess

The Court of Appeals has ordered the conduct of a hearing against the head of the review center involved in the alleged rigging of the 2006 nursing licensure examinations.

George Cordero, president and owner of Inress Review Center, is facing a string of charges for allegedly leaking several questions in the June 2006 nursing exams.

In a 16-page decision, the CA’s Special 12th Division denied Cordero’s petition seeking to stop the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) from hearing the administrative complaint against him for lack of a verified complaint and a complainant. 

The CA said PRC’s Board of Nursing acted well within its jurisdiction and did not abuse its discretion when it proceeded with the hearing of the administrative complaint filed by chairperson Carmencita Abaquin. 

“In the administrative case, what are involved are the irregularities in the licensure examinations which marred the integrity of the Board and the examinations it administered and from the aforementioned provisions, the Board not only has adjudicatory powers but regulatory and investigatory powers as well for the public interest. Undoubtedly, the Board as the aggrieved party and acting in behalf of the public should be the proper complainant,” the Court said. 

Cordero was charged for violation of Section 15 of Republic Act 8981 (Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Act) and the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

The CA also junked Cordero’s claim that there must be a complainant first aside from the BoN before the Board could proceed with the hearing, saying the provision in the PRC rules “does not negate the right of the Board by itself to initiate the administrative case, after a prima facie finding, by filing a formal charge and in effect, be the complainant.” 

It added that in administrative proceedings, the technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied. - via GMANews.TV

Half-cocked foreign health worker scheme has a long way to go

Japan is wavering over its acceptance of foreign nurses and care workers. Filipino nurses and care workers have come to Japan in accordance with the Japan-Philippines economic partnership agreement (EPA), but their numbers are far below that initially planned. This is due to the difficulties in obtaining licenses in Japan, and medical and care facilities' reluctance to accept foreign workers as the government has implemented measures to encourage them to accept those who have lost their jobs amid the global recession.

The Philippines is the second country to send trainee nurses and care workers to Japan under a bilateral EPA, following Indonesia. Japan plans to accept up to 1,000 Filipino nurses and care workers as trainees over a two-year period, almost equal to those from Indonesia. The workers are supposed to work at medical and care facilities as trainees after learning Japanese and undergoing introductory courses for six months.

Nurses are allowed to undergo on-the-job training for up to three years, while nursing care workers are permitted to do so for the maximum of four years. If they take state examinations and obtain Japanese licenses, they will be allowed to continue to work in Japan. Those who fail will be ordered to go home.

The number of applicants far outstripped the number of positions available, but the number of those who actually made it to Japan was far smaller than it should have been, due to various problems.

Firstly, it is difficult for foreign workers to obtain licenses in Japan, as they are required to take state examinations in Japanese. The pass rate of state examinations for care worker licenses is around 50 percent even among Japanese applicants, and foreign applicants must learn enough Japanese to sufficiently understand the contents of the examinations.

Secondly, institutions that accept these trainees are required to bear certain financial burdens. The Japanese government foots trainees' travel expenses and costs of undergoing Japanese-language training, but medical and care facilities must pay for subsequent on-the-job training and wages. Bosses are reluctant to accept foreign trainees for fears they will get no return on their investment if they fail the exams.

But the biggest problem is that the government has not yet clarified basic policy on accepting foreign workers. The government maintains that its acceptance of Filipino nurses and care workers is part of the bilateral economic exchange, and not intended to make up for workforce shortages. It has failed to clarify the direction of the bilateral economic exchange in the future, which has discouraged the operators of medical and nursing institutions from accepting foreign workers.

The government estimates that Japan must double the number of care workers by 2025 as the population ages. To that end, Japan must increase the number of care workers by 70,000 to 80,000 each year, but achieving this goal appears unlikely. The time has come when Japan must determine how many foreign workers it should accept and how it should accept them, but discussions on the issue have not even started.

A haphazard approach will be deadlocked in the end. The government is urged to work out basic policy on the acceptance of foreign nurses and care workers and deal with challenges, such as hurdles for accepting them that have already surfaced.

Nurses can continue emigrating to New Zealand, process made simpler

The New Zealand Nursing Council has told Filipino authorities that the option for emigrating to New Zealand through the skilled stream for nurses will remain open, particularly for Filipinos.

While rumours had started that nurses emigrating to New Zealand from the Philippines did not quite meet the standard of nurses in New Zealand, the New Zealand Nursing Council chief executive has said these ideas are unfounded and the Filipino nurses will continue to comprise a substantial part of the nursing staff in the country.  

According to the Manila Bulletin, about 200 nurses are registered every year from Filipinos emigrating to New Zealand. 

The Nursing Council has also reassured the Filipino authorities that the success rate of Filipino nurses in completing their assessment programme and meeting the standards of the New Zealand nursing industry was impressive. 

Further, the slowdown of the global economy and tightening of the New Zealand immigration system will not affect the numbers of nurses emigrating to New Zealand from any other country, and that the Nursing Council would make it easier for qualified nurses to emigrate to New Zealand under the skilled migration programme. 

Firstly, the Nursing Council website will aim to get direct applications from foreign nurses (rather than through recruitment agencies) by providing complete information on their website on how to find work as a nurse in New Zealand.  

They have also ensured that the English language requirements for foreign nurses have been made simpler to obtain an IELTS score of 7 (highest band), by staggering the completion of each stage and giving applicants the option of completing their IELTS in their home country. 

Emigrating to New Zealand as a nurse is an attractive option for many foreign workers seeking employment, as the job opportunities in the health sector are plentiful and the relaxed, outdoor, safe and fulfilling lifestyle in New Zealand are factors that many people aspire to.  

Fortunately, emigrating to New Zealand as a nurse can gain permanent residence for applicants and can eventually lead to naturalisation, allowing foreign workers the same rights as New Zealand citizens. 

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to New Zealand.

Filipino nurses still welcome in New Zealand - DFA

Despite reports of discrimination, Filipino nurses are still welcome to work in New Zealand, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.

An article on the DFA website (www.dfa.gov.ph) said the assurance came from officials of the New Zealand Nursing Council led by Chief Executive Carolyn Reed and Registration Manager Andrea McCance.

The council executives met with Director J. Susana Paez of the DFA’s Asian and Pacific Affairs, Director Eric Gerardo Tamayo of the Office of the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations, as well Dr. Teresita Barcelo, president of the Philippine Colleges of Nursing (ADPCN).

During the meeting, they expressed regret at the confusion brought about by “erroneous” media reporting which questioned the competence of Filipino nurses.

According to the DFA, Reed said the remarks were made by other parties who are not connected with the New Zealand Nursing Council or the New Zealand government.

The executives also met separately with officials of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Bienvenido Tejano suggested the visit in response to the council’s expression of desire to undertake consultations with their Philippine counterparts, the DFA report said.

Filipinos constitute the second largest number of foreign nurses in New Zealand, with about 200 nurses registered every year.

McCance stressed that the Nursing Council has been making it less complicated for qualified foreign nurses to come to New Zealand.

Steps they have taken include providing complete information in its website and staggering the completion requirement of completing seven bands under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) which include the option of taking the IELTS in the country of origin.

Low failure rate

Also, the Council officials cited a very low failure rate in the required competency assessment program, and observed that Filipino nurse candidates are able to successfully hurdle the prescribed bridging program.

The Nursing Council clarified that the issuance of residency visas is beyond the scope of their work, but a foreign nurse registered with them will present such registration in support of a separate proper residency status application with New Zealand immigration authorities.

It also encourages direct applications rather than coursing registration via recruitment agencies.

Meanwhile, the visiting council representatives were briefed on the role of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) and presented the Philippines’ Bachelor of Science in Nursing curriculum and the educational standards for registered nurses in the Philippines.

Reed said the meetings facilitated their understanding of the Philippine nursing program for purposes of matching course requirements.

The DFA encouraged the Nursing Council, PNA and ADPCN to pursue and adopt a practice done with other countries of having school registrars identify and match subjects with foreign government requirements on the applicant’s transcript of records.

This would also facilitate the evaluation of individuals who will practice nursing in New Zealand and that they are indeed International Qualified Nurses (IQN) suitable for the country’s healthcare standards.

“The meeting’s outcome assures an open line of communication between the council and the nurses sector in the Philippines, and augurs well for better opportunities for Filipino nurses and the adoption of relevant programs to further uplift the nursing profession in the country,” the DFA said. - via GMANews.TV

1st batch of JPEPA nurses off to Japan this week

By Raymund F. Antonino
The first batch of nurses and caregivers who have been hired under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) are ready to be deployed to Japan this weekend, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Tuesday.

POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili said some 358 nurses and caregivers have been given employment and training opportunities in Japan although that country is in recession at this time.

“The nurses and caregiver candidates for Japan will leave the country either on May 8 or May 9. They had reported to the POEA for contract signing and already submitted their respective requirements,” she said.

However, the number of recruited medical workers declined from the supposed annual target of 500 after some hospitals and nursing care facilities there reduced costs due to the global financial crisis, she added.

“Those applicants who did not make it but are pre-qualified can join the second batch of nurses and caregivers to be deployed next year,” Manalili said.

Under the agreement, the skills of local nurses and caregivers are matched by JICWELS (Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services) to the manpower requirements of hospitals in that country. The Filipinos also have to take language training courses for a half a year prior to their actual work.

During the training, the candidates who are covered by a job contract will receive allowances of not less than 40,000 yen or more than P21,000 per month. Their employer or the Japanese government will shoulder their travel costs apart from the onsite training expenses.

Manalili said the salaries of the newly hired Filipino nurses and caregivers are equivalent to the pay of their Japanese counterparts with similar tasks.

The POEA will commence the recruitment of another batch of 200 Filipino nurses and 300 caregivers for Japan under the JPEPA by 2010.

Pinoy nurses rally to save jobs, hospital in US

By Henni Espinosa
Filipino nurses are now fighting to save not only their jobs but also the hospital where they work in California.

The nurses rallied in front of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Office in Oakland, last Tuesday to protest the closure of San Leandro Hospital where they worked.

“I work here for five days full time and I don’t have any other work so it’s going to affect me and my family,” said Filipino nurse Mildred Causing.

More than half of the 250 nurses at the hospital are Filipino.

“Kahit registered nurse ngayon mahihirapan pa din humanap ng trabaho dahil marami ang uninsured at sa palagay ko mahina ang bayad ng medical, medicare sa mga hospital,” said another Filipina nurse Dolorita Malixi.

The nurses said they want to save San Leandro Hospital because it is the only fully-functioning acute care hospital in the area.

“If we are not there then where will those people go?” said Betty Micu.

The California Nurses Association which represents the nurses accused Sutter Health of closing hospitals in medically underserved areas.

“I think this is Sutter’s modus operandi they come in and they purchase the hospital and they make promises to the community that they’ll make services open and they almost immediately start to plan how to close services in areas that have less insured patients, the underserved areas in favor of building up in areas where people are more affluent,” said the association’s spokesperson Jan Rodolfo. 

According to reports, Sutter said that in the month of February alone the hospital lost US$1.5 million. Sutter said that while it is still evaluating the hospital’s financial health, it said it’s clear that they cannot offer the services they do right now and stay in business.

Sutter plan to close the hospital on June 30.

Nurses’ Supporting Role in Law and Order

By PATRICIA R. OLSEN

WHEN it comes to solving crimes, images of detectives, police officers and scientists often come to mind. But nurses, too, play a critical role in the criminal justice system, and they can make good money doing so. 

Nurses with forensic training may gather data at accident sites and in other situations where crimes may have occurred or medical evidence needs to be collected. They may also testify in court cases and help lawyers understand medical records — often for medical malpractice cases.

Some nurses with this training start a business as legal nurse consultants, and still others become coroners, completing work like that of medical examiners, who hold doctor of medicine degrees. Some continue their regular nursing work and do forensic work part time.

Holly Bedgio has run a business as a legal nurse consultant for 10 years. In addition to her job as director of clinical operations and risk management for Matrix Home Care in West Palm Beach, Fla., she works with a dozen law firms around the country, helping lawyers decide whether to take a case, for example, or identifying who shares the blame in a wrongful death suit. 

“I love that no two cases are alike,” Ms. Bedgio said. The lawyers often don’t brief her before she reads case files so as not to influence her findings. “It’s like reading a mystery novel. You have to put the pieces of the puzzle together to solve the case,” she said.

As coroner for Charleston County in South Carolina, Rae Wooten draws on 30 years of experience and training as a nurse. Her forensics skills include how to identify evidence in a death investigation as well as how to interview witnesses and suspects.

“I’m a fact-finder. I investigate deaths, including homicides, fatalities from traffic accidents, those that are fire-related, and those that initially are unexplained, unexpected or suspicious,” Ms. Wooten said. She assesses the state of the body, takes photos, orders autopsies, and works with law enforcement to determine the cause of death. 

Nurses have long performed various forensic services, but over the years the skills have become codified under the umbrella of forensic nursing. 

“You’ll hear the title ‘forensic nurse,’ but that can be misleading, as if it covers one area,” said Julie Rosof-Williams, course coordinator for the forensic nursing program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “To identify someone as a forensic nurse is not comparable to saying, for example, that someone is a pediatric nurse, which indicates the person works solely with children.” 

The field has drawn interest from nurses at several levels, including licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. As a result, in the last decade or so masters and doctoral degree programs have proliferated to provide training.

For example, in 2004 the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University began offering forensic nursing as a minor in the masters of nursing program. Several private educational providers also offer forensic nursing courses. 

Carey Goryl, executive director of the International Association of Forensic Nurses, says that it is important to research any educational provider. “Potential employers and even some state nursing licensing boards may not recognize all the forensic courses that are available,” Ms. Goryl said. “Nurses who have a particular employer in mind should contact them first and find out which educational provider is acceptable for that forensic program.” 

The salaries for nurses with this training vary widely, said Ms. Rosof-Williams, depending on specialty, local market rates, degree and experience. 

As president of the South Florida chapter of the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, Ms. Bedgio is familiar with salaries in her specialty. It’s not uncommon for a legal nurse consultant working full-time to make six figures, but it takes a while to get started, she said. In her experience, a legal nurse consultant can make between $100 and $150 an hour.

Certification can also be an issue. “A certificate program can give a general background, but if nurses want to practice with a specific population, such as sexual assault patients, they need specialized training, such as provided by a 40-hour sexual assault nurse examiner, or SANE, course,” Ms. Goryl said. 

The forensic nursing association offers two board certifications for sexual assault nurse examiners, for nurses who want to work either with children, or adolescents and adults. The organization has also teamed with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, to provide additional credentials. 

MS. ROSOF-WILLIAMS also works at Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine and at Our Kids Center, a clinic of Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital. She serves as a sexual assault nurse examiner at the center, supporting and collecting evidence from children who may have been sexually assaulted. As part of her job, she has also testified in court cases involving those children. 

Ms. Rosof-Williams describes her specialty with enthusiasm. “As a sexual assault nurse examiner, I have the opportunity to get involved in direct patient care and help people heal from some of the worst situations ever,” she said. “Not only do I get the reward of helping patients, I also get rewarded when other health care providers say: ‘Please do this. You’re the expert.’ And I get the intellectual excitement of helping people outside the health care system do their job. I like the idea of serving social justice, where the guilty go to jail and the innocent go free.”

Graduate Nurses Must Be Kept on, Says Report

By EITHNE DONNELLAN 

IRISH PATIENTS will have to bring a relative with them into hospital to look after them in a few years' time "like they do in Ethiopia", unless the Government implements a new report that will see graduate nurses retained in the healthcare system, the annual conference of the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) was told yesterday. 

Annette Kennedy, director of professional development with the INO, said the independent report from the Commission on Nursing Hours that looked at how a 35-hour week could be delivered for nurses recommended two nursing graduates on reduced salaries be employed to replace each retiring nurse. 

In this way she said all nurses could get a shorter working week, which they have been campaigning for since they took industrial action in 2007; young nurses would get experience; and over 1,000 replacement nursing jobs would be created every year at a time when jobs rather than more people on the dole were needed. 

She added that the report, which was recently submitted to Minister for Health Mary Harney, also pointed to how more efficient use could be made of nurses' time. At present nurses, she said, spend 20 per cent of their time undertaking associated duties like chasing equipment and cleaning. She also pointed out that many patients were spending too long in hospital before operations, which was also an inefficient use of resources. 

She pointed to the ageing profile of nurses, saying 50 per cent of all community nurses were over 50 and in general services the vast majority of nurses were over 40. "If we can't bring in new graduates . . . then we will be in trouble," she said. 

Ms Harney, in her address to delegates, said the report was "very innovative" and gave "a lot of food for thought". She will be discussing it with the HSE, but ultimately it would have to be approved by Government. 

Meanwhile, delegates also heard that about 22 per cent of hospitals and healthcare settings have still not reduced nurses' hours from 39 hours a week to 37.5 hours a week as they were required to do from June 1st, 2008. 

The INO is meeting the National Implementation Body on this issue next week and will insist that hours are reduced in all settings and that nurses who haven't yet benefited from the reduction in their hours be compensated retrospectively by pay or time in lieu. 

Originally published by EITHNE DONNELLAN. 

(c) 2009 Irish Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc. 

Former jail nurse accused of fondling inmates acquitted

A jury found a former Pima County Jail nurse not guilty Friday on all 10 felony sex abuse and unlawful sexual contact charges in what his defense attorney characterized as a case of "he said, she said." 

In closing arguments, Thomas S. Hartzell told jurors the accusations came from felons - among them a prostitute, a bad-check writer and a woman who lied to police about her identity - who conspired to accuse Christopher Erin Johnston, 29, of sex crimes. 

The motive, he said, was revenge because an inmate felt "violated" after Johnston performed an EKG exam. 

The exam requires attaching adhesive pads to the bare chest so that electrode leads can be attached in the study of heart rhythm. 

Ex-jail inmate Nancy Rostenhausler testified she asked for a medical visit in the jail because she was having chest pains. 

Johnston administered an EKG. He told detectives he may have touched her breasts while attaching the pads but the touching was inadvertent. 

Rostenhausler testified that she complained to her sister, who was also incarcerated at the jail. She said she was upset that Johnston saw her bare breasts and touched them, she testified. 

A juror asked if that was her first EKG and she said it was. 

Hartzell said the sister spoke to other inmates and had them "make accusations of unlawful sexual contact against Johnston, a registered nurse. 

The alleged incidents took place in July and August 2007. 

Johnston is no longer employed at the jail and is no longer registered with the Arizona State Board of Nursing. 

One alleged victim, Robyn Sanchez, jailed on a prostitution charge, said Johnston asked her if she "gave good (a sex act)." 

She also testified he suggested they meet in a bathroom at Wal-Mart after she got out. 

Hartzell called the accusers "very criminal women." He told the jury: "It's not against the law to say, 'Do you give good (sex act),' or 'Meet me at Wal-Mart.' " 

Johnston, who did not testify, told detectives his "sarcastic sense of humor" was misinterpreted and that he said "those things just to entertain myself." 

Prosecutor Shawn Jensvold said the illegal acts did occur and that the inmates "deserve to be treated like women, not like cattle, not like property, with respect."

Staffs full, nurses struggle for work

Recession hits a once-sure thing

When Katharine Barron enrolled in Boston College's school of nursing in 2005, everyone - family, friends, college officials - assured her hospitals would be "banging down her door" with job offers.


Because nurses were in such high demand, they said, Barron's degree was going to be like a guaranteed paycheck. Or so she thought.

Turns out Barron will be lucky to land work in Boston after she graduates later this year. The 22-year-old Newton native will be saddled with more than $100,000 in student loans and anticipates moving back to her parents' home.

"I really hope I can get a job," she said during a break from class Thursday. "It's frustrating. And it's scary to think about the future."

Because of the recession, nursing jobs are scarce for the first time in years. In Massachusetts, vacancy rates on nursing staffs have fallen to 4 percent this year, down from 5 percent in 2007, and 10 percent in 2002, when there were the most openings, according to the Massachusetts Hospital Association. As a result, many nursing students on the cusp of graduation are scrambling to find employment.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, the nursing vacancy rate is under 2 percent, grinding most hiring to a halt, said Steven Taranto, human resources director. The hospital, which has about 4,000 full- and part-time nurses, recently canceled a critical-care training program for new nurses, he said. And for the first time in memory, Taranto said, there are no nurse openings in the emergency department.

"I've worked at Mass. General for 12 years and this is the lowest vacancy [rate] I've ever had," he said.

There are 78 nurse openings posted on the hospital's website, but most require highly specialized skills or considerable experience, he said.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently said it will lay off more than 100 employees, including nurses, and officials at two Boston nursing schools said opportunities for new nurses are nearly nonexistent at Children's Hospital.

There are two major reasons for the lack of new jobs. First, most hospitals are treating fewer patients as people put off costly elective surgery. At the same time, many experienced part-time nurses are looking for more hours, while others are coming out of retirement because a spouse was laid off.

"This steep recession has placed an unusual economic burden on a lot of households and it's driving many nurses back to the labor market," said Peter Buerhaus, a professor at Vanderbilt University who has written extensively about the nation's nursing shortage.

It is a situation nurses have not faced in a long time. For most of the last decade, nursing shortages were the rule. Hospitals frequently offered $5,000 to $10,000 sign-on bonuses, and many promised cars or generous vacation packages to attract nurses just out of school. At the same time, Buerhaus said, nursing programs at colleges proliferated to help fill the void.

In recent years, several area nursing programs have been created to train people seeking to enter the profession from other careers. Many also offer master's degree programs to help increase the number of nursing instructors. The shortage of instructors was once so severe that programs could not train nursing faculty and expand class sizes fast enough to meet demand.

Katherine McDonough, clinical care instructor at Northeastern University's nursing school, said she is advising students for the first time to network instead of simply applying for jobs online.

"It breaks my heart for them, but we go through cycles like this, and we will cycle back again," she said.

Others are less sympathetic, noting that there are still open jobs for community nurses at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and visiting nurse groups, though there are fewer of those, too, and they pay less.

Susan Hassmiller, a senior adviser for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a private foundation that has extensively researched the nursing shortage, said many nurses could use the downturn to gain experience in the growing field of home healthcare, which is expected to explode as baby boomers age.

Many nurses will shun those jobs, she said, because the pay is lower and they offer less excitement and prestige.

"New grads always want to go to the hospitals first, and you can get paid a lot more in hospitals than a community setting," Hassmiller said. But "this blip . . . may not be such a bad thing," she added.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation did not predict the downturn and the current nursing job shortage. Just four years ago, it urged Congress and states "to act quickly to avert the crisis in patient care" and find ways to train more nurses.

Buerhaus said the glut is temporary and that research shows an overall nursing shortage nationwide through 2020. His advice to would-be nurses: "Keep your focus on the long run."

That does not console Michelle Jones, 22, who is graduating from Boston College's nursing school this year. An intern nurse at Mass. General, she planned to ease into a full-time job at the hospital after graduation.

But a professor recently told her to look elsewhere for work because there are no openings at the hospital, and some of her mentors have suggested she search for a position outside Massachusetts.

Jones said she grew up in Roxbury, where her family and fiance live, and does not want to move.

"It kind of stinks," she said. "Even now people say, 'Oh, that's great, nurses always have good jobs.' I have to tell them that it's not like that anymore."

Alexandra Wilder, 27, said she grew scared when she sent out 70 job applications in December and heard back from just three prospective employers.

After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 2003 she worked as a paramedic and later decided to go to nursing school. She eventually borrowed $60,000 to earn a master's degree in nursing. Earlier this month, she landed a job a half-hour from her home in Boston at MetroWest Medical Center in Natick. It was not what she expected originally, but she is thrilled. Combined with her husband's income, they will be able to meet their financial obligations.

"A lot of my friends don't have spouses that work and they took out loans to go to nursing school," Wilder said. "Now they're really scraping."

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com.  

Graduate nurses told there's no work for them

DESPITE long-standing complaints about a state-wide nurse shortage, graduating nurses are being turned away by cash-strapped public hospitals. 

New South Wales Nurses Association secretary Brett Holmes said at least 12 trainee nurses graduating at Liverpool Hospital this month were told they would not be offered full-time work. 

NSW Health said 15 per cent of the Hunter New England Area Health Service trainee intake did not get jobs. 

Despite investing $50,000 per trainee nurse position, the NSW Government now says there is limited need for them. The one-year program involves 15 weeks of study at TAFE and 37 weeks of clinical practice in public hospitals. The nurses earn a base salary of $34,197 plus shift penalties and overtime, with TAFE fees covered. 

Mr Holmes wrote to Health Director-General Debora Picone last week demanding an explanation. 

"I am surprised that NSW Health agencies would consider the investment of more than $50,000 in training per trainee enrolled nurse so insignificant that it did not warrant further employment of enrolled nurses," he wrote.

Home births 'as safe as hospital'


The largest study of its kind has found that for low-risk women, giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital with a midwife. 

Research from the Netherlands - which has a high rate of home births - found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births. 

Home births have long been debated amid concerns about their safety. 

UK obstetricians welcomed the study - published in the journal BJOG - but said it may not apply universally. 

The number of mothers giving birth at home in the UK has been rising since it dipped to a low in 1988. Of all births in England and Wales in 2006, 2.7% took place at home, the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed. 

The research was carried out in the Netherlands after figures showed the country had one of the highest rates in Europe of babies dying during or just after birth. 

It was suggested that home births could be a factor, as Dutch women are able and encouraged to choose this option. One third do so. 

But a comparison of "low-risk" women who planned to give birth at home with those who planned to give birth in hospital with a midwife found no difference in death or serious illness among either baby or mother. 

"We found that for low-risk mothers at the start of their labour it is just as safe to deliver at home with a midwife as it is in hospital with a midwife," said Professor Simone Buitendijk of the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research. 

"These results should strengthen policies that encourage low-risk women at the onset of labour to choose their own place of birth." 

Hospital transfer 

Low-risk women in the study were those who had no known complications - such as a baby in breech or one with a congenital abnormality, or a previous caesarean section. 

Nearly a third of women who planned and started their labours at home ended up being transferred as complications arose - including for instance an abnormal fetal heart rate, or if the mother required more effective pain relief in the form of an epidural. 
“ The NHS is simply not set up to meet the potential demand for home births ” 
Louise Silverton Royal College of Midwives 

But even when she needed to be transferred to the care of a doctor in a hospital, the risk to her or her baby was no higher than if she had started out her labour under the care of a midwife in hospital. 

The researchers noted the importance of both highly-trained midwives who knew when to refer a home birth to hospital as well as rapid transportation. 

While stressing the study was the most comprehensive yet into the safety of home births, they also acknowledged some caveats. 

The group who chose to give birth in hospital rather than at home were more likely to be first-time mothers or of an ethnic minority background - the risk of complications is higher in both these groups. 

The study did not compare the relative safety of home births against low-risk women who opted for doctor rather than midwife-led care. This is to be the subject of a future investigation. 

Home option 

But Professor Buitendijk said the study did have relevance for other countries like the UK with a highly developed health infrastructure and well-trained midwives. 
“ Women need to be counselled on the unexpected emergencies which can arise during labour and can only be managed in a maternity hospital ” 
RCOG 

In the UK, the government has pledged to give all women the option of a home birth by the end of this year. At present just 2.7% of births in England and Wales take place at home, but there are considerable regional variations. 

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said, the study was "a major step forward in showing that home is as safe as hospital, for low risk women giving birth when support services are in place. 

"However, to begin providing more home births there has to be a seismic shift in the way maternity services are organised. The NHS is simply not set up to meet the potential demand for home births, because we are still in a culture where the vast majority of births are in hospital. 

"There also has to be a major increase in the number of midwives because they are the people who will be in the homes delivering the babies." 

Mary Newburn, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: "This makes a significant contribution to the growing body of reassuring evidence that suggests offering women a choice of place of birth is entirely appropriate." 

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said it supported home births "in cases of low-risk pregnancies provided the appropriate infrastructures and resources are present to support such a system. 

But it added: "Women need to be counselled on the unexpected emergencies - such as cord prolapse, fetal heart rate abnormalities, undiagnosed breech, prolonged labour and postpartum haemorrhage - which can arise during labour and can only be managed in a maternity hospital. 

"Such emergencies would always require the transfer of women by ambulance to the hospital as extra medical support is only present in hospital settings and would not be available to them when they deliver at home." 

The Department of Health said that giving more mothers-to-be the opportunity to choose to give birth at home was one of its priority targets for 2009/10. 

A spokesman said: "All Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) have set out plans for implementing Maternity Matters to provide high-quality, safe maternity care for women and their babies." 

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7998417.stm

Nursing students' project may have statewide effect

Post-Tribune correspondent
HAMMOND -- Nursing students at Purdue University Calumet are learning much more than taking temperatures and the procedures for keeping records.

The 35 students in Gail Wegner's Capstone Course in Nursing are participating in a pilot experiential learning program, mandatory before receiving their nursing bachelor's degrees in May.

The experiential learning component of the curriculum was instituted last fall.

"It is a combination of service learning and a project-based practicum based on a selected design project," Wegner said. "There are two parts to the class -- 30 hours of volunteer work and 60 hours of group project work."

The project-based practicum involves collaboration with a health care agency representative and a nursing faculty member.

The class projects, which came from a list comprised of "wants and needs" of area healthcare facilities, were divided among the students. The topics of the assignments varied from implementing a hospital bereavement program to researching an alcohol withdrawal protocol on a hospital medical/surgical unit, with much in between.

One unique project involved coordination of colored wristbands within all area hospitals.

Currently, five colors of wristbands are used in medical care facilities -- green, yellow, red, purple and pink. The problem lies with the designation of each color. Not all hospitals designate the same colors for the same identification.

According to some hospital employees, this can cause serious consequences. For example, one hospital may use a yellow wristband to designate allergies, but if a patient with a yellow wristband is transferred to another hospital, that facility may use yellow for a different condition.

While doing research, the nursing student team talked with representatives of the Indiana Hospital Association. This association took an interest in the project and asked the students to keep them informed of the project's status.

They did so, and sent a copy of the completed project to the IHA. 

In return, the IHA asked permission to use some of the material on a project they were developing.

The students gladly gave their approval.

"We didn't think (our research) would go this far," team member Ashley Canon of Schererville said. "Our goal was just to make our graduation requirements, but it turned into a great opportunity (with the IHA)."

Fellow team member Jessica Langlois was excited when the IHA contacted her after the team sent a "tool kit" (research findings and solution) to them.

"I was ecstatic. Originally, we called the IHA association just to develop a source," she said. "We were surprised when they acted very interested in what we were doing. 

"It's exciting to know that four nursing students could help develop a statewide initiative to increase patient safety."

Purdue Cal undergraduate students in nursing must complete two experiential learning courses before receiving their diplomas.

These can take the form of internships, cooperative education, applied research with faculty, study abroad, design projects or community service learning.

Healthcare firm accused of punishing Spanish-speakers settles suit

Skilled Healthcare Group is ordered to pay up to $450,000 after allegedly enforcing an English-only policy against Latinos at California and Texas facilities.

Latino workers in California and Texas allegedly punished for speaking Spanish in their workplaces will be granted up to $450,000, free English classes and other relief under a consent decree approved this week in a class-action lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Los Angeles. 

The lawsuit alleged that Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. and affiliated firms, based in Orange County with facilities in six Western and Southern states, enforced an English-only rule against Latinos but not other ethnic groups speaking Tagalog and other languages. 

Latino workers were prohibited from speaking Spanish to Spanish-speaking nursing home residents, disciplined for speaking their native tongue in the parking lot on breaks and subjected to other forms of discrimination and harassment, said Anna Park, the EEOC's regional attorney in Los Angeles.

"In the most diverse state in the nation, employers should not single out certain languages and cultures for harsher treatment," Park said. 

The healthcare firm's attorney, however, vigorously disputed the allegations and said the two sides settled the lawsuit without testing the claims as a way to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. 

Attorney Thomas Mackey said the first complaint was filed in 2002, when the skilled nursing facilities were under different management. But he asserted that even then the firm never employed an "English-only policy." 

He said managers always encouraged employees to speak in the language most comfortable for residents, including Spanish.

Two of the claimants, however, asserted otherwise. Shilo Schilling, a 40-year-old certified nursing assistant, said she was emphatically told at orientations at two of the group's Torrance facilities that only English would be allowed. 

"I was kind of in a daze," said Schilling, the bilingual daughter of a Mexican mother and Hawaiian father. "I thought, 'OK, then how are we supposed to communicate with our Spanish-speaking patients?' "

In one case at the Royalwood Care Center in Torrance, she said, a resident told her in Spanish that she needed to use the restroom. When Schilling responded in Spanish, she said, she was told by a supervisor that she would be written up or fired if she continued to speak that language. 

Yet some of the supervisors and charge nurses would speak a different language, such as Tagalog, she said. She left the firm after less than a year. 

Jose Zazueta, a Mexico native who worked as a janitor at the Royalwood facility, filed the original complaint alleging that he was fired because he could not guarantee he would speak only English. Park said Zazueta was a monolingual Spanish-speaker who warned a colleague in Spanish to watch out for the wet floor he had just mopped. When a supervisor heard him, Park said, he was asked to pledge to use only English but could not and was fired.

English-only workplace policies are allowed if there is a business necessity for them, Park said. Mackey said that federal law also allows employers to ask employees who can speak English to do so. 

He said sorting out the claims among employees who were bilingual and those who said they were monolingual could have required extensive litigation, one reason the two sides agreed to resolve the lawsuit.

Under the consent decree, the Skilled Healthcare Group will pay $180,000 for distribution among 53 claimants and offer them free English classes. If they complete them, they will receive another $2,500 each. In addition, the firm agreed to provide anti-discrimination training at its facilities and appoint a monitor to oversee efforts to comply with federal law. 

The lawsuit was part of a growing raft of charges filed nationwide alleging national origin discrimination. In 2008, filings increased to a record high of 10,601, up 13% from the previous year. Among them, 204 filings involved English-only rules, up from 125 cases two years earlier, according to EEOC figures. 

Filings alleging national origin discrimination in the Los Angeles area were twice as high as the national average, 27% of all complaints compared with 11.4% nationwide. 

"We are seeing a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment and the demonization of one group," Park said.

Schilling said she hoped the settlement would bring broader understanding of the region's diverse needs.

"I think everyone has the right to speak in the language they feel most comfortable with," she said.

teresa.watanabe@latimes.com

Secret filming nurse struck off

A nurse who secretly filmed for the BBC to reveal the neglect of elderly patients at a hospital has been struck off for misconduct. 

Margaret Haywood, 58, filmed at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for a BBC Panorama programme in July 2005. 

She was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council which said she failed to "follow her obligations as a nurse". 

Ms Haywood, a nurse for over 20 years, said she thought she had been treated harshly and had put patients first. 

Ms Haywood, from Liverpool, said: "I am absolutely devastated and upset by it all. I think I have been treated very harshly. 
“ Panorama believes that Margaret Haywood has done the elderly population of this country a great service ” 
BBC spokesman 

"It is a serious issue and I knew it was a risk I was taking but I thought the filming was justified and it was in the public interest. 

"I always made it clear to the BBC that patients would come first at all times." 

She said she had voiced her concerns through her immediate line manager "but nothing was really taken on board" and the whole process now needed to be reviewed. 

'Patients' dignity compromised' 

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Whistle-blowers already have full protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act passed by this Government. 

"We expect that any member of staff who reports concerns about the safety or quality of care to be listened to by their managers and action taken to address their concerns." 

She was found guilty of misconduct on Wednesday following a fitness to practise hearing. 

The panel said she "followed the behest of the filmmakers... rather than her obligations as a nurse". 

The chair of the panel, Linda Read, said Ms Haywood had prioritised the filming, which in the view of the panel "was a major breach of the code of conduct". 

She said: "A patient should be able to trust a nurse with his/her physical condition and psychological wellbeing without that confidential information being disclosed to others. HAVE YOUR SAY How can the NMC expect respect and confidence from the public they are supposed to be serving when they react in this deplorable and protectionist manner? Graham, Canterbury 

"Although the conditions on the ward were dreadful, it was not necessary to breach confidentiality to seek to improve them by the method chosen. 

She said the misconduct was "fundamentally incompatible with being a nurse". 

"The registrant could have attempted to address shortcomings by other means. But this was never a course of action which she fully considered." 

Ms Haywood had admitted breaching patient confidentiality but denied her fitness to practise had been impaired. 
“ This makes total nonsense of all the talk about openness and transparency in the NHS. Cover-up is the order of the game ” 
Joyce Robins, Patient Concern 

Elizabeth Bloor, the BBC programme's producer, told the hearing there had been "an over-arching public interest" to produce the Undercover Nurse documentary because Panorama had received up to 5,000 complaints about conditions. 

In November the panel found no evidence that Ms Haywood broke the NHS Trust's policy on whistle-blowing by raising concerns about patient care in the documentary, or that she failed to assist colleagues when a patient was having a seizure. 

A BBC spokesman said: "There was clearly a strong public interest in revealing that some elderly people were not receiving the level of care we expect from our national health service. 

"Panorama believes that Margaret Haywood has done the elderly population of this country a great service." 

'Right and proper' 

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said its code of conduct stated that surreptitious means of gaining information were permissible in the public interest, and the same should apply to whistle-blowers. 

Tim Gopsill, of the NUJ, said: "Sometimes the only way to get anything done is to go to the media. No-one could possibly argue that this story was not in the public interest." 

The panel's ruling was also criticised by Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern. 

She said: "This just demonstrates the priorities of the regulators - rules come before patients every time. The message that goes out to nurses is: however badly you see patients treated, keep your face shut. 

"This makes total nonsense of all the talk about openness and transparency in the NHS. Cover-up is the order of the game." 

Ms Haywood's actions were also defended by Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse. 

He said: "We know that we're seeing older people suffering the most appalling care and neglect too often in our care environments. 

"In that context I believe what Margaret Haywood did and what Panorama did was right and proper." 

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/sussex/8002559.stm

Published: 2009/04/16 18:14:26 GMT

© BBC MMIX

Caring From Afar

Young Filipinos work as nurses abroad to send money back home.

When April Quirante graduated as the valedictorian of her high school in the small town of Sison in the Philippines, she planned to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant. But after a year of accounting, her family expected her to study something else. When classes resume in June, she will not be learning about economics, finance, or mathematics. Instead, she will enroll in nursing school and soon be expected to enter the demanding environment of an American hospital. Hers is a common story: Quirante is one of thousands of young Filipinos who study nursing with the intention to work abroad. 


According to U.S. Bureau of labor statistics, there are about 100,000 unfilled nursing positions in the United States today. The Bureau estimates that by 2020, there will be close to 800,000 more nurses needed than employed in the United States. As Western populations age and technological advances make more treatment options available, many developed nations are facing a similar problem and have begun looking to the developing world to fill the gap in nursing labor. 

According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, over 13,000 Filipinos leave the country each year to pursue nursing as an economic opportunity abroad. A former U.S. territory, the Philippines has maintained an admiration for and a mutual friendship with the United States since the country’s independence in 1946. Mary lui, an associate professor of history and American studies at Yale who focuses on Asian- American history, told the Globalist that this relationship has existed since the Colonial Period. While immigrants from other Asian countries faced exclusion, Filipinos had far fewer limitations. Americans helped develop higher education in the Philippines, and nursing in particular became popular as it became associated with modern hygiene. lui explained that after the removal of country- based quotas in 1965, the Filipino migration to nursing in the United States “really took off.” Additionally, English has long been an official language of the Philippines, making Filipinos more attractive employees in the United States than comparable workers without English language skills. 

However, there has been some resistance to Filipino nurses, led in particular by the American Nursing Association, which views immigrants as being in competition with American nurses. Filipino nurses are often paid less than domestic ones: Many hospitals and universities bring in Filipino nurses under the title of “intern” or “nurse-in-training,” paying them less than full wages even though they work full shifts and bear full responsibilities. 

But dedication to the profession does not go unnoticed. Employers quickly detect which nurses are passionate about their work. “It’s a job that you have to really enjoy to be successful in,” said Maryknoll Quiachon, a Filipino nurse who left her apartment in Pandacan, Manila, seven years ago to work abroad in London. 

Originally a political science student, Quiachon pursued nursing after her family helped her realize that it would be her chance to join her relatives already in the United States. despite her stable income, Quiachon, a mother of two, lives in a cramped house with two other families and two single women. She sends a sizable portion of her income back to her mother and siblings in the Philippines. 

What is left is saved for her journey to the United States, for which she has been waiting since she left the Philippines. When asked about the decision to pursue nursing, Quiachon said, “There’s more than just coming to America on my mind.” Quiachon was only able to begin studying nursing with financial support from family abroad. Now with a sustainable income, she views it as her duty to help her remaining relatives go to school in pursuit of better employment. “My aunt and uncle helped me, and now it is my turn,” she said. 

Due to emigration of doctors and nurses, the Philippines has only one medical professional for every 15,000 citizens, according to the World Health Organization. Brain drain continues, leaving few to care for the country from within. Remittances to families make up a significant portion of the GdP, reinforcing the dependency on overseas workers. 

Paired with a foreign-focused education, this attachment to the American economy raises the question: How independent has the Philippines really become over the last 60 years? Meanwhile, with the lack of nurses in the United States only growing, American citizens may be increasingly dependent on Filipinos in return. 

Joe Bolognese is a freshman in Pierson College.

U.S. healthcare system pinched by nursing shortage

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. healthcare system is pinched by a persistent nursing shortage that threatens the quality of patient care even as tens of thousands of people are turned away from nursing schools, according to experts.

The shortage has drawn the attention of President Barack Obama. During a White House meeting on Thursday to promote his promised healthcare system overhaul, Obama expressed alarm over the notion that the United States might have to import trained foreign nurses because so many U.S. nursing jobs are unfilled.

Democratic U.S. Representative Lois Capps, a former school nurse, said meaningful healthcare overhaul cannot occur without fixing the nursing shortage. "Nurses deliver healthcare," Capps said in a telephone interview.

An estimated 116,000 registered nurse positions are unfilled at U.S. hospitals and nearly 100,000 jobs go vacant in nursing homes, experts said.

The shortage is expected to worsen in coming years as the 78 million people in the post-World War Two baby boom generation begin to hit retirement age. An aging population requires more care for chronic illnesses and at nursing homes.

"The nursing shortage is not driven by a lack of interest in nursing careers. The bottleneck is at the schools of nursing because there's not a large enough pool of faculty," Robert Rosseter of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing said in a telephone interview.

Nursing colleges have been unable to expand enrollment levels to meet the rising demand, and some U.S. lawmakers blame years of weak federal financial help for the schools.

Almost 50,000 qualified applicants to professional nursing programs were turned away in 2008, including nearly 6,000 people seeking to earn master's and doctoral degrees, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing said.

PAY DIFFERENCES

One reason for the faculty squeeze is that a nurse with a graduate degree needed to teach can earn more as a practicing nurse, about $82,000, than teaching, about $68,000.

Obama called nurses "the front lines of the healthcare system," adding: "They don't get paid very well. Their working conditions aren't as good as they should be."

The economic stimulus bill Obama signed last month included $500 million to address shortages of health workers. About $100 million of this could go to tackling the nursing shortage. There are about 2.5 million working U.S. registered nurses.

Separately, Senator Dick Durbin and Representative Nita Lowey, both Democrats, have introduced a measure to increase federal grants to help nursing colleges.

Peter Buerhaus, a nursing work force expert at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, said the nursing shortage is a "quality and safety" issue. Hospital staffs may be stretched thin due to unfilled nursing jobs, raising the risk of medical errors, safety lapses and delays in care, he said.

A study by Buerhaus showed that 6,700 patient deaths and 4 million days of hospital care could be averted annually by increasing the number of nurses. "Nurses are the glue holding the system together," Buerhaus said.

Addressing the nursing shortage is important in the context of healthcare reform, Buerhaus added. Future shortages could drive up nurse wages, adding costs to the system, he said.

And if the health changes championed by Obama raise the number of Americans with access to medical care, more nurses will be needed to help accommodate them, Buerhaus said.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Mohammad Zargham)

Air Force nurse charged in three patients' deaths


(CNN) -- An Air Force nurse has been charged with murdering three terminally ill patients by giving them fatal overdoses, the Air Force said Tuesday.

Capt. Michael Fontana is continuing to work at Wildford Hall Medical Center.

Capt. Michael Fontana, a nurse at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, also was charged Monday with conduct unbecoming an officer for changing a medical document.

"The charges are the result of an Air Force investigation that occurred after irregularities were discovered in Capt. Fontana's administration of medications which may have resulted in the death of an end-of-life patient," hospital spokesman David Smith told reporters.

The nurse was charged with three counts of violating Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. "It is considered murder," Smith said.

After an Article 32 hearing, akin to a civilian grand jury proceeding, the commander will decide whether the case goes to court-martial.

The three deaths occurred in July, Smith said. He cited the privacy act in refusing to divulge the suspect's age and hometown. 

He said he did not know the motive but was confident no other patients were victimized. 

"We know that there are no other patients involved in this case," he said.

Fontana, an intensive-care unit nurse who has been working at the hospital since 2006, the year he joined the Air Force, has been released on his own recognizance and is continuing to work at the hospital, though he is no longer involved in patient care, Smith said.

"As far as we can tell, he has been an exemplary nurse," Smith said.

Fontana also served as a nurse at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, Smith said. His work there was investigated, "and there was nothing found," he said.

A call to a San Antonio phone number listed as belonging to Michael Fontana got a message that said, "Thank you for calling. Due to the ongoing investigation, I have no comment for you right now, but I do appreciate your call and will talk to you soon."

Relatives of the dead patients have requested privacy, the Air Force said.
Wilford Hall Medical Center is the Air Force's largest medical facility.

Vocollect's device has health-care workers talking


Businesses that launched new products in late 2007 could start their own survivor's club today, with monthly meetings convened around a mid-sized dining table.

In that elite club, one seat should be reserved for Vocollect Healthcare Systems in Wilkins, which Â-- counter to the economic times -- saw its sales more than triple last year.

The company's product is a voice-assisted care device that, to an outsider, looks a lot like the headsets worn by the counter help at fast-food restaurants.

But Vocollect's device, called AccuNurse, is more -- a voice-activated portable system that provides nursing home aides with information on their residents as they work while also capturing data to ensure the nursing home gets proper reimbursement.

When it debuted, AccuNurse was sold in two states. Now it is available in 23.

"There's enormous opportunity for us, so we have pretty high expectations for this company," said James Quasey, president of the firm.

He makes the case that AccuNurse has a number of benefits: It helps ensure nursing home residents get proper care at the proper time; it streamlines the work day for aides, who no longer have to keep handwritten records or sit through shift-change meetings; and it makes sure the nursing home captures the full reimbursement.

"It is a system that pays for itself within months," Mr. Quasey said.

In 2005, Roger Byford, chairman and CEO of Vocollect Healthcare's parent company, visited the small Virginia company that developed the system. "It was very clear to me that it was a great application for the technology," he said.

So he bought AccuNurse and brought it back to Pittsburgh, where Vocollect technicians spent 18 months building a second generation model that is more powerful, smaller, more ergonomically designed and less expensive.

They put special emphasis on top-drawer voice recognition software, knowing that garbled messages lead to intolerable delays and mistakes. And they made sure potential customers would see the financial benefit.

Among its local customers are UPMC's skilled nursing facilities, which, in an article in Nursing Homes magazine last year, reported increased reimbursement due to improved documentation and dramatic declines in staff turnover. Within three months, the system had paid for itself, according to the article.

Last month, St. John Specialty Care Center in Mars took some of its units fully online. Executive Director Tom Prickett said, "We're very pleased with it." Judy Hon, assistant director of nursing, said staff members feel empowered, knowing when they walk into a resident's room they actually have a handle on everything that resident needs.

Because workers can page each other through the headset, rather than an intercom, noise levels in the facility have gone down, too.

Vocollect officials keep pricing and revenue figures private, but they are clearly optimistic about the company's future. While potential 10 percent to 20 percent annual growth would make most companies swoon, "that would be short of our expectation, that's for sure," Mr. Quasey said.

With 45 employees, Vocollect Healthcare is only one-tenth the size of its parent, Vocollect Inc., which sells voice-activation systems for use in warehouse distribution. With many of its customers in the retail sector, the economic downturn has hit Vocollect Inc., forcing the company to lay off 65 workers in November.

"We expect both businesses to grow," said Mr. Byford, but in five years he hopes the parent is only two to three times bigger than Vocollect Healthcare, a wholly-owned subsidiary.

There are 17,000 nursing homes in the United States, he noted. The company also is already exploring the possibilities of adapting the application to hospital settings.

"It's not just that we're growing in a slow economy," Mr. Quasey said. "It's that we're helping people."

Steve Twedt can be reached at stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.
First published on March 17, 2009 at 12:00 am

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