By Linda Beattie, contributor
July 15, 2011 - “Camaraderie,” “family” and “teamwork” are three terms that frequently come to mind when nurses are asked to describe the working environment at the facilities of Providence Health & Services, a large not-for-profit health system that includes 27 hospitals and offers comprehensive health services across five states.
Despite its overall size, the individual units and facilities within Providence are more like close-knit families, and for some nurses who have spent their entire career at the same hospital, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I came in as a new grad and received awesome training; I think our facility has one of the better education programs,” said Wendy Roller, RN, who works in the ICU at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif. Now, 12 years later, she still appreciates how that training has helped her.
“The new grad program, all in all, spanned almost six months by the time I was done,” said Roller, who spent her first two-and-a-half years in telemetry before making the switch to ICU. “Travelers and others who come here are still amazed at the level of training our nurses receive.”
“Once people come here, there is a huge camaraderie,” she added. “I can’t imagine working anywhere else. Many travelers sign on after their assignments. The teamwork is wonderful, and not just within our department. We support each other.”
Roller added that her manager works closely with staff, giving the unit less of an administrative, top-down approach, and “more of a team feel.”
“Most nurses who were here when we achieved Magnet designation [in 2008] are still here; we definitely have good retention, and work so well together. I think of it as part of my family. I sometimes feel like I’m coming to work to get a break. Not many critical care nurses would say that,” she laughed. “We also work well with administrators and physicians; they listen to us in regards to new policies, new computer systems; it’s all encompassed.”
Sandra Partida, RN, who has been at Providence Holy Cross throughout her five-year nursing career, has found a similar working environment in the labor and delivery unit.
“I was lucky enough to start off in the L&D,” she said, adding that she has found the hospital is very open to new graduate nurses. And the small-yet-busy L&D department has functioned very well, partly because of the relationships among the staff.
“We are very united,” Partida said. “We all help each other. When an emergency happens, everyone knows you need help, and by the time you need help, they are there.”
“We make it happen, and it’s not chaotic,” she continued. “Patients hear about us by word of mouth, and they want to return; they’re very happy with the care they get. Many choose to come back, and they tell their friends and family. It is like a family atmosphere here.”
In addition to being an ANCC-Magnet designated hospital--recognized by the American Nurse Credentialing Center for nursing excellence--Providence Holy Cross is also a designated Baby-friendly Hospital that puts an extra emphasis on breastfeeding and bonding between mother and baby.
Working at a growing facility
The L&D unit--along with the rest of Providence Holy Cross--is currently undergoing some major changes, as the hospital is expanding with a new 138-bed patient care wing that increases the facility’s capacity from 254 to 392 beds. The expansion coincides with the hospital’s 50th-year celebration.
“We are currently a very small unit, but we handle about 250 deliveries a month. We’re now in the process of moving into a new unit in the new South Tower, which is getting everyone excited,” Partida said.
The maternal health unit is expanding into the new Women’s Pavilion, which includes 10 labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) suites, three triage rooms, two ORs, two C-section recovery beds, and 25 new postpartum beds, along with a new 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The new hospital wing also includes a larger gastroenterology lab, an expanded pre- and post-surgery department, and additional private and semi-private rooms.
Partida is looking forward to a bigger flow of patients and new learning opportunities as more high-risk babies can be cared for in their NICU instead of being transferred to another facility.
Temporary nurses welcomed
Other facilities within Providence Health offer a similar working atmosphere for the nursing staff, even those who work on a temporary basis.
James Paul, RN, has been a nurse for 11 years and recently started working per diem assignments with staffing company, Nursefinders, an AMN Healthcare company. His assignments have been in the ICU at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, a 356-bed facility serving Los Angeles and nearby communities.
“It’s a really good atmosphere, really kind of a family,” he commented, adding that the facility is very welcoming to travel and registry nurses. “They have a real good attitude toward people coming in and helping them.”
“They’ve offered me as much work as I want, and working at San Pedro has been great,” he said. “I know some people there now, and find they are really friendly and helpful. It’s a really a tight group--a neighborhood-type hospital. Teamwork among the staff is really good.”
Paul has even had the opportunity to assist the nursing staff during their transition to a new computerized records system, which he had taken the time to learn.
“I had attended an all-day Saturday class, which set me up so that I could go, and they appreciated that. Now they know that I understand their charting. Around the beginning of June, I was actually able to help some of the staff there who had taken the class a long time ago, as well.”
Lisa Katherine Shook, RN, started working per diem with Nursefinders this past spring when she moved from Connecticut to California, and has also found a welcoming environment at Providence. She has worked a variety of assignments at Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance Medical Center, as well as the Little Company of Mary San Pedro facility.
“It’s a GREAT company to work for, with a really friendly, helpful staff. Very clean and well organized.” The California staffing laws have been an added bonus. “Moving from Connecticut to California, I have also appreciated the fact that the patient-to-nurse ratio is lower, which is a wonderful thing.”
Roller from Holy Cross agreed that staffing is always a top consideration.
“We follow the 2-to-1, patient-to-nurse ratio in the ICU, and we rarely have a problem with staffing. Even with the new tower opening this week, the facility has hired on a number of new staff and been doing a lot of training in preparation.”
And the Providence Holy Cross staff appears ready to take on any new demands of their growing facility.
“We’re there for each other,” added Partida. “Just like a family.”
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