Yesterday in Murrieta, about an hour north of San Diego, nurses and firefighters launched a campaign seeking local elected official support for a dedicated dispatch nurse at Inland Valley Medical Center. The nurses are members of the Southwest Riverside Nurses Association, who are being organized by the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP).
Mobile Intensive Care Nurses (MICNs) are registered nurses working in the emergency department of a regional trauma center who have advanced training on paramedic protocols. These dispatch nurses take radio and telephone calls from field paramedics and help treat patients under the paramedics’ care, as well as direct the paramedics to which local emergency room to take patients where they can best and most quickly be treated.
But at Inland Valley Medical Center, MICNs are frequently given their own emergency patients to treat, which is a violation of the law. (Read about issues at another UHS hospital, where nurses have also tried to make improvements in the Emergency Room, here.)
According to Inland Valley (MICN) Dave Colmer:
For months now, nurses and firemen have been asking the hospital to put patients first by ensuring a dedicated Mobile Intensive Care Nurse in the emergency department. An MICN needs to focus on working with paramedics to save lives in emergency situations. Inland Valley Medical Center must put patient safety first and ensure that MICNs are not assigned emergency patients as well as being responsible for answering paramedic calls.
Dean Hale, President of the Murrieta Firefighters Association:
I’m a paramedic. We take patients to the ER, where the nurses are the next step in the patient care chain. We need the MICN’s undivided attention when we radio the hospital to say we’re coming in with an emergency patient. By the same token, patients in the ER deserve the dedicated attention of a nurse who doesn’t have one ear out listening for a radio call. These could be matters of life and death for the members of this community.