Battles Over Nurse Staffing Ratios Spread Across Nation

Source: Mischa Gaus, Labor Notes Magazine, No. 347, February 2008

After a patient quietly died in registered nurse Danielle Magaña’s hospital hallway, she decided she’d had enough. Although an autopsy later said the woman had died of natural causes, Magaña said the incident was waiting to happen at her chronically short-staffed San Antonio hospital.

Intensive-care nurses like her were assigned up to five patients per shift, including two in the hallways who weren’t hooked into monitoring equipment that warns when a patient’s vital signs slip away. Magaña still questions whether the woman could have been rescued if the nurses on her floor weren’t carrying such heavy patient loads.

Hospital management, she said, “do not give us the right to say, you need to call in another nurse.”

So Magaña became one of the 40,000 Texas registered nurses the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) estimates have left the hospital bedside, largely they argue because hospitals cut staff in the 1990s and quickened the pace of nursing work to intolerable levels. In a national study released in September, 42 percent of newly licensed RNs said they would like to leave bedside nursing.

Typical Wealth Held by Those at the Verge of Retirement

Source: Gordon Mermin, Urban Institute, February 22, 2008

From the abstract:
A great way to assess how well adults have accumulated wealth is to look at their finances in the years shortly before they retire. We show wealth among households with an adult age 57-61 in 2004, using the Health and Retirement Study. This wealth snapshot highlights the extraordinary importance of Social Security, traditional pensions, and owner-occupied housing for typical near-retiree households today, which together comprise nearly four-fifths of wealth for middle quintile households on the verge of retirement.

Ohio’s Job Losses: 2000 to 2007 Worst Losses Since the Depression

Source: Dr. Charles W. McMillion, MBG Information Services, February 2008

According to the US Department of Labor, Ohio had -209,400 fewer nonfarm jobs in December

2007 than it had in December 2000. This loss of -3.7% of Ohio’s jobs is the worst seven-year loss in state records that begin in 1939 as the Great Depression was ending. The previous seven-year job loss record was the period ending in 2006 (-3.6% of jobs lost) and before that the record was held for the period ending in 1962 when -3.4% of jobs were lost in the demobilization after the Korean War.

Nine of the state’s thirteen metropolitan areas suffered recent job losses more severe even than Ohio’s statewide losses. Most devastated is the Springfield area, losing -10.0% of its jobs over the last seven years. The other areas with job losses worse than statewide include Canton -8.6% job loss, Dayton -7.6%, Mansfield -6.5%, Youngstown -6.3%, Lima -5.7%, Cleveland -5.5%, Toledo -5.0% and Steubenville-Weirton, OH/WV -3.8%.

President’s Budget Would Cut Deeply Into Important Public Services and Adversely Affect States

Source: Sharon Parrott, Kris Cox, Danilo Trisi, and Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 20, 2008

The President’s 2009 budget would provide some $20.5 billion less for domestic discretionary programs outside of homeland security — a broad category of programs that includes everything from child care to environmental protection to medical research — than the 2008 level, adjusted for inflation.

The budget calls for reductions in a broad range of services, including some areas that have seen sizable cuts in recent years. For example, the budget would cut child care, environmental protection, and job training — all areas for which funding in 2008 is well below funding earlier in the decade, after adjusting for inflation.

State tables

Getting Ahead Or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility In America

Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Isabel V. Sawhill, and Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, Economic Mobility Project (Pew Charitable Trusts), 2008

Since our nation’s founding, the promise of economic opportunity has been a central component of the American Dream. And while the Dream remains a unifying tenet for an increasingly diverse society, it may be showing signs of wear. Growing income inequality and slower economic growth suggest that now is an important moment to review the facts about opportunity and mobility in America and to attempt to answer the basic question: Is the American Dream alive and well?

This volume, authored by a team of scholars at the Brookings Institution, is one in a series of major research products that aims to further enlighten the public dialogue on economic opportunity. While it offers reassuring findings in some areas, in many others there is room for concern. By arming the public and policy makers with facts about the status of opportunity in America today, this volume seeks to stimulate and frame the debate about which policies are likely to be most effective in ensuring that the American Dream endures for the next century.

Key findings

Targeted at Work

Source: David L. Hudson Jr. and Lawrence D. Rosenthal, Legal Times, February 18, 2008

Victimized employees deserve the Supreme Court’s help against retaliation on the job

Retaliation cases have become significant — both for the workplace and for the Supreme Court. This term alone, the Court is hearing several retaliation cases — including two with oral arguments this week — with important consequences for victimized employees and for the effectiveness of anti-discrimination laws.

Related article:
Employer Retaliation Cases Reach U.S. Supreme Court
Source: Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor, 02/19/2008

Four Million Health Care Workers Needed: How To Recruit Them?

Source: Genevieve Gencianos, PSI

The world lacks more than four million health care workers and this has been clearly stated by the World Health Organisation. This means that every country in the world has a shortage of health care workers. But where will these millions come from? A quick fix for rich countries is to recruit them in poorer ones. PSI is now campaigning for a code of practice in the international recruitment of health care workers.

Bond Crisis Already Crimping States

Source: Daniel C. Vock,, February 15, 2008

Michigan just suspended a state loan program for 8,500 students, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is facing a four-fold jump in interest rates on one of its loans. Both are signs of a new bond-market crisis that is threatening to hurt other cities and states if left unchecked.

Hopes are riding high that famed investor Warren Buffett, the administration of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), Congress or federal agencies will avert even bigger troubles.

If not, cities and states that issue tax-exempt bonds to raise money for such projects as road and bridge work or rely on investors to raise student-loan money could confront a series of new problems stemming from the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Culture Change in a For-Profit-Nursing Home Chain: An Evaluation

Source: Leslie A. Grant, Commonwealth Fund, Volume 85, February 13, 2008

Beverly Healthcare–one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains–launched a culture change initiative in 2002, called resident-centered care (RCC). This report presents findings from a 12-month evaluation of that initiative. While most prior culture change models had been implemented by nonprofit organizations in a small number of facilities, this project marked a major departure for the culture change movement because it was the first time that a large national for-profit chain implemented culture change. The RCC initiative was successful in that it introduced new organizational practices, made improvements in resident quality of life (e.g., in choice and autonomy), and created better work environments for staff. The RCC initiative did not achieve short-term financial gains. The business case for culture change, however, should be based on long-term goals to reposition the nursing home within an evolving continuum of care.