Video: Ebola Day of Action in Minnesota

Nurses and their families gather at the Minnesota State Capitol to honor those frontline healthcare workers who have been caring for or have pledged to care for Ebola patients.  Nurses asked the state for mandatory standards to be enforced by OSHA that will protect them from all infectious diseases, and they pledged to make complaints to OSHA if hospitals aren’t ready.

Mixed results in 2014 Elections

vite2Minnesota nurses saw mixed results in the Nov. 4 elections. Many candidates who support nurses and issues including a Safe Patient Standard, won at the ballot box.

All candidates for statewide office endorsed by MNA were elected. Governor Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and State Auditor Rebecca Otto were re-elected. Steve Simon, MNA’s endorsed candidate for Secretary of State, will replace outgoing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Nearly two-thirds of MNA’s endorsed candidates from both parties for the House were elected.

As a result of the elections, Republicans will hold a 72-62 seat majority in the House (pending recounts in several close races) when the 2015 Legislative Session convenes.

That will present new challenges for passage of a Safe Patient Standard in 2015, but MNA will continue to advocate for minimum standards of care that protect patient safety and make sure nurses have the time they need to provide patients with the quality care they deserve.

MNA conducted its largest-ever member-to-member volunteer program this election season. Nurses reached out to other nurses in targeted districts by telephone and in person. Nurses also participated in doorknocking with candidates and with colleagues from other unions, and participated in record numbers for Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities in the last days of the election.

MNA members should be very  proud of the effort nurses made to inform voters and support candidates who stand with nurses. We are building a foundation of strength for the future.


Protect Your Practice: Insulin Administration in the Prison Setting

By Mathew Keller, RN JD, MNA Nurse Policy Specialist

We all know the five rights of medication administration: right patient, right route, right dose, right time, and right medication. Right documentation is often added as a sixth right.

But how can an RN give the right dose if she or he has not checked the patient’s blood glucose? In the clinical setting, blood glucose monitoring is often a delegated task. Whether the task is delegated to the patient or another properly trained assistive personnel is within the nurse’s discretion.

Diabetic items

Administering insulin based on an inmate’s self-reported blood glucose, however, presents an especially challenging ethical dilemma for  nurses in a prison setting. On the one hand is the nurse’s duty to respect the patient’s autonomy. On the other hand is the nurse’s duty of beneficence and non-maleficence to that patient. And, of course, don’t forget that you can’t help other patients if you no longer have your license.

There are several avenues available to the Board of Nursing to discipline an RN who improperly administers medication due to an incorrectly reported blood glucose level.

Never forget that under the Nurse Practice Act, you and only you, are accountable for the quality of care delivered;  [1] that discipline can result from failure to conform to “the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing professional… nursing practice;” [2] and that the five rights of medication administration are minimum standards of acceptable nursing practice.

Adhering to the five rights for administration of insulin requires that the nurse has 100 percent confidence in the reported blood glucose in order to fulfill the “right dose” requirement. “Delegating… a nursing function or a prescribed healthcare function when the delegation… could reasonably be expected to result in unsafe or ineffective patient care” [3] is also grounds for discipline, including delegation of blood glucose monitoring.

If you, as an RN, have complete confidence in the self-reported blood glucose of an inmate, great. It is within your discretion to administer insulin to that patient. But please keep in mind that if you are ever wrong, if the inmate ever incorrectly self-reports, reports a blood glucose from six hours ago, or simply used improper methods to check his or her blood glucose, then you will fail to administer the right dose of medication.

Because of this, I highly advise all MNA members who work in prisons facing this issue to protect your license by having the inmate check his or her blood glucose in front of you. Checking the history of the blood glucose monitor is simply not enough: blood glucose results can be manipulated, perhaps in the way they are taken, perhaps in the device’s settings or time, perhaps in ways we are not even aware of.

Remember that you are accountable for the care you deliver, that the right dose requires you to know the right blood glucose, and that delegating a nursing function that could result in unsafe patient care is grounds for discipline.


[1]MN Statute § 148.171 Subd. 15(17)

[2]MN Statute § 148.261 Subd. 1(6)

[3] MN Statute § 148.261 Subd. 1(8)

Know your rights on Election Day – and use them!

Be prepared when you vote on Nov. 4 – know who you’re voting for and know your rights before you get to the polls.

MNA has endorsed candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, and the Minnesota House who support nurses and important issues like safe patient standards. The list is on MNA’s website.

Nurses vote 2014

There’s still time to get involved and make sure those people are elected. You can make phone calls or knock on the doors of voters who share our values but need a push and a little information to get them to vote. A list of opportunities is on MNA’s website.

Your Voting Rights
Did you know that you are entitled to paid time off in order to vote in the Nov. 4 elections?

Under state law, “every employee who is eligible to vote in an election has the right to be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee’s polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work… without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence.” Employers are not allowed to refuse or interfere with this right, directly or indirectly, and cannot require you to use personal or vacation time.  Any employer, manager, or supervisor who interferes with the right to vote is guilty of a misdemeanor under the law.

Please visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s MNVotes website for information on your rights and a sample letter to provide to your employer.

Voting Early
Why wait until Election Day to vote?  Absentee ballots are available now, even if you are not yet registered to vote.  Thanks to a new law authored by Rep. Steve Simon (MNA’s endorsed candidate for Secretary of State), any Minnesota voter can vote absentee without an excuse, essentially creating early voting for anyone who wants it.

There is still time to vote in person at your county election office.  Visit MNVotes to learn more.

Rice County nurses say yes to new contract

Rice County nurses
Libby Behrens
Tracy Ackerman-Shaw
Mary Handberg
Lisa Benson

MNA members who work for Rice County Public Health in Faribault will see a wage increase and higher health insurance contributions from the county, thanks to a newly ratified contract.

MNA members voted yes for their new two-year contract on Sept. 19.

It includes a retroactive 2.5 percent pay increase for 2014 and a 2.75 percent raise in 2015.

“The nurses of Rice County have learned a lot through this process about the need for solidarity in the county,” said Negotiating Team member Amber Hauer.” We sent a clear message to the county negotiators that we deserve a contract  without regressive  terms.”

The bargaining unit gained two new members on the day of the vote.

One of them, Tracy Ackerman-Shaw, is a new employee. She said she was eager to join MNA.

“I knew the good MNA does for the members,” she said. “I believe MNA has the best interests of members in mind. They do a fantastic job negotiating the contract.”


Deer River nurses kick off negotiations

Nurses at Essentia Health in Deer River are calling it their ‘contraband cake.’

MNA members kicked off negotiations by serving a cake decorated with the MNA logo to passers-by in an area near the hospital lobby – until they were asked to leave.

contraband cake Sep 4contraband cake 2 sep 4

Hospital administrators not only asked members to move, they canceled the next day’s negotiating session.

Talks are now set for today (Sept. 9).

This is the first contract since Essentia took over the hospital. Nurses say they’re ready to stand up for a contract that shows Essentia is dedicated to supporting the Deer River community and quality nurses who want to work at the hospital and make the area their home.

State nurses’ contract approved

MNA members employed by the State of Minnesota have a new contract.

The Legislature’s Subcommittee on Employee Relations approved the agreement on August 21.

State team
Negotiating team members (front row, left to right): Karen Leathert, Tammy Hughes, Imo Kalla. Back row, left to right: Brent Griffith, Teresa Koenen, Ann Mehltretter

“This is a fair contract that recognizes the top quality of care that nurses provide for patients throughout the state – including mental health, corrections, Department of Health,  and veterans’ facilities,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Tammy Hughes.

“Thanks to Senators James Metzen and Chris Eaton, along with Representative Leon  Lillie, who spoke in support of the contract and the importance of state-employed nurses during subcommittee discussions before the vote,” said MNA Bargaining Agent Lonna-Jean Schmidt Nelson.

The new contract calls for 6.0 percent wage increases over the two-year contract for the 760 registered nurses, most of whom work in Human Services, Corrections, Health, and Veterans’  Homes.


New contracts improve staffing, wages, benefits

From the far north to the far southwest of Minnesota, MNA nurses are winning new contracts that improve staffing, wages, and benefits. Nurses reached out and received community support in their communities to show employers that citizens support nurses.

Nurses at Rainy Lake Medical Center in International Falls, Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming,  Sanford Worthington Medical Center, and Fairview Range Regional Health Services in Hibbing have all voted to ratify new contracts in the last month.

International Falls. It took nearly a year of standing strong for a fair contract that protects safe patient care, but Rainy Lake Medical Center nurses approved a tentative agreement and have a new contract this month.

negotiators after ratify

“The community’s support was key for reaching a fair contract and was greatly appreciated,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Wendy Sutch. “The signs posted in businesses, homes, and car windows throughout the community show the public understands the important role that nurses play in patient care and safety.”

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract.

Fairview Lakes. Nurses at Fairview Lakes Medical Center in  Wyoming, MN, were less than a week away from informational picketing when they reached a tentative agreement with management.

tina thompson Dianne Faith

“We achieved a good contract because members stood together,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sue Kreitz.

“Signs in local businesses, stickers, a giant ‘sympathy card’ for management, a video showing the unequal treatment of clinic nurses, and an imminent informational picket sent a clear message we were standing up for a fair contract that benefits staff, patients, and our community,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Sandie Anderson.

The new contract makes progress toward addressing scheduling concerns, provides for required reviews of staffing levels and guidelines, and maintains hard-fought-for benefits, all of which will enable the hospital and clinic to attract and retain nurses.

Sanford Worthington. Community support was essential in securing a new three-year contract in Worthington.

“Worthington area residents showed they value nurses and the important role we play in the community by displaying ‘We Support Our Nurses’ signs in their yards and businesses, and voicing support and appreciation wherever they could,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Nancy Ihrke.

theanne and brittany schitl

“We stood up for a fair contract that attracts and retains quality nurses,” said Bargaining Unit Co-Chair Monica McCoy.

The new contract includes a 5.5 percent wage increase over the three-year contract and members retained all benefits.

Hibbing. Fairview Range nurses won 4.5 percent raises over the three-year contract in the wage-only negotiations.

“Members agreed to discuss wages in these negotiations so we could work for the next three years on improving safe staffing,” said Negotiating Team member Jon  Wesley.

Help elect candidates who support nurses

leadership compass

Minnesota’s party primaries are over, and the November 4 general election slate of candidates is set.  It’s now time to make sure that candidates who share nurses’ values are elected.

If we hope to make progress toward staffing legislation that will keep patients safe, nurses need to help make sure voters to go the polls and elect candidates who will advocate for nursing, our patients, and our communities.

Nurses are the most trusted profession in the United States and the best messenger to let voters know about the candidates who will be on the side of working families.

You can join other nurses and make phone calls, talk to your neighbors and friends, and go to candidate events.

There are opportunities in every part of the state to help elect candidates who will stand with nurses.

Saturday, August 23, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hopkins

Rep. Yvonne Selcer (48A) canvassing
Coordinated DFL office, 915 Main St., Hopkins


Tuesday, August 26, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5-8 p.m.
Phonebanking at MNA office
345 Randolph Ave, Suite 200, St. Paul

Thursday, September 4,  4:30-8:30 p.m.
2014 Labor Day of Action
Door knocking and phone banking for pro-labor candidates at locations around Minnesota.

MNA’s website is updated frequently with new opportunities to volunteer throughout Minnesota.

You can sign up for activities on the Member Portal on MNA’s website.