Nurses use YouTube as forum to air concerns

MARSHALL – A group of Marshall area nurses have taken to the Internet to express their concerns about staffing at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. An online video featuring nurses talking about Avera Marshall has gotten some attention during the past several days.

While an Avera Marshall spokesperson declined to comment on the video this week, two Avera Marshall nurses said nursing staff members have been meeting with hospital administration to try and address the nurses’ concerns.

Late last week, a video titled “Nurse Stories: Avera Marshall” was posted on the video sharing website YouTube by the Minnesota Nurses Association. In the video, four women talk about incidents where they said nurses were unable to give hospital patients the time and quality of care they needed, because they were understaffed. An MNA spokesperson said the speakers in the video were Avera Marshall nurses.

“It started basically because of nurses’ concerns for patient safety,” Val Buysse, an RN at Avera Marshall, said of the video. “Staffing is our greatest concern.”

As of Friday, the video had been viewed more than 4,000 times.

Deann Holland, community relations director at Avera Marshall, said this week that Avera Marshall would not comment on items in social media, like the video.

Buysse and fellow RN LuAnn Lessman said there have been fewer nurses working at Avera Marshall, and that the situation had become more noticeable in the past year or so. They said they and other nurses were left with more work shifts and more patients to care for per person, which makes it harder to meet patients’ needs.

While the Minnesota Nurses Association was able to produce the YouTube video, and Buysse and Lessman are members of the MNA, they stressed that the video wasn’t about union issues. They said the nurses in the video were trying to make their staffing concerns heard, after a period of time where it felt like they weren’t being heard by hospital administration.

“We’re not sure where else to go,” Lessman said. “We think the public does need to be aware.”

Dr. Jill Vroman, chief of medical staff at Avera Marshall, said members of the medical staff have also tried to support the nursing staff in voicing their concerns, including writing a letter to the hospital board last August.

“Ultimately, (staffing) is important to the quality of care a patient receives and the safety of the patient,” Vroman said.

Buysse emphasized that members of the Avera Marshall nursing staff have been in talks with hospital administration to try and address nurses’ concerns. The timing of the video’s release was “probably not perfect” for that process, she said, but the nurses who made the video were genuinely concerned about patients.

“We want to work toward a solution,” Lessman said. “I have faith that we need to work through a process to change.”

Buysse and Lessman said they felt a mix of caution and hope that nurses’ concerns could be addressed.