Tuesday, June 02, 2009

There's No I in "Can't," But There's an I in "I Can't"

A little more work-related ranting?

This weekend we had staffing problems. Night shift is always tough to keep staffed. It's a crappy shift with too much work and not enough love from management. The bosses only drop by once in a while to remind the night shifters that they're losers and fuck-ups who aren't smart enough to be on day shift.

Saturday night's call-in du jour was a tech with one week left before our modest hospital disappears in her taillights. She's got a bad case of Idon'tgiveadamn. Sunday it was a phlebotomist who called in...the only one on staff on Sunday nights.

So Saturday I did the usual call-in ritual. Calling the phone list and trying to find someone: a) who would pick up the phone when they saw the hospital's number in the caller I.D., and b) was sober on Saturday night.

As it turned out, there was no one able to meet both criteria. So I stayed until 3:30 a.m. when a day-shifter would be in, drove a half hour home, fell into bed, crawled out of bed, and went back for another round.

St. Evie...that's me. Patron saint of suckers.

Sunday night, however was a different story. Sunday, Angela, my shiftmate (who is so steady she makes rocks look flighty), took the call and spent her evening trying to find someone to cover. Finally she called the phlebotomy supervisor, who helpfully informed her that he was too drunk to deal with it, and then she called our boss. Boss abdicated. Figure it out, says Boss. Call the phlebotomy supervisor. Maybe he can handle it.

I don't know how much anyone else knows about hospital guidelines, but we have minimum staffing guidelines monitored by a variety of organizations like JCAHO and the FDA. Being short isn't just inconvenient, it's illegal.

But Sunday night, we were screwed. So I called the E.R. and told them they'd have to do their own blood draws. Then I called the floors and said we'd be up for the stats, but not the routines. If they want it, they'd have to collect it themselves. Then I called the house charge and told him we'd be below minimum staffing.

He said, "Did you call Boss?" I said "Yep. He said 'figure it out'."

Yesterday I went to work and confronted Boss. We need a better solution. We need someone on call. We need a sober phlebotomy supervisor, or at least a backup person. We need someone to care that we're out of compliance. I told him we didn't have time to do his job plus our own, which involved actual patients in need of medical care.

He explained that he'd been useless, not due to a lack of responsibility on his part, but as a form of empowerment for us.

Empowerment?? I told him he'd confused empowerment with exploitation, and I don't make enough money to do both our jobs.

Kids, I'm already empowerful. I know how to ask, beg, wheedle, cajole, manipulate, coerce, and outright threaten any poor employee dumb enough to pick up the phone. But once they're on to me, I'm not empowerful enough to go to their houses and drag them out of bed, slap lab coats on them, and make them fulfill our staffing requirements.

Boss asked me what to do. Ah! This happens to be what I do best! I suck at empathy, but I rock out loud at "what to do."

What to do, of course, is to stop whining about how hard it is to be the boss and start making specific requests of specific people. I told him that if it were me, instead of sending out a big generic e-mail threatening to someday create an imaginary call schedule, send three e-mails.

- One to day shift, telling them that they'll be rotating a four hour call for the second half of night shift for one week per tech.

- One to evening shift saying the same thing. They'll be rotating a four hour call for the first half of night shift, one week per tech.

- One to night shift saying they'll be the back up, rotating coverage for an entire shift, at one week per tech.

Easy? Not if you're afraid of confrontation. He said some people won't like it and they'll get mad at him. I said no one will like it, but if we all have to do it, we can all not like it together.

The meeting ended the way all meetings with Boss end. In a conversation about how no one understands how stressful it is to be the boss.

I wonder if the ditch diggers and rag pickers are hiring.

1 comment:

Kwach said...

Here's a clue for Boss. No one understands how stressful it is because it doesn't look particularly stressful. After all, whenever there's a problem, it's never Boss who's there in the wee small hours or burning up the phone lines to get it fixed. Boss scurries out the back door at quittin' time, regardless of what disaster is brewing, and then hides out until it's time to come back the next day and retire to his office to stew about how stressful everything is. When stress is hand delivered to Boss's office, Boss says whatever whoever is bringing it wants to hear and then scurries out early to get a jump on the hiding out.

At least your old Boss could be easily found, since she sat in her office playing solitaire on her computer all day. No one can be sure what this Boss does with his time besides cower and gossip.