Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Nurse group complains about University Hospital staffing




BY TIM BONFIELD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Ohio Nurses Association (ONA), a trade group and union for nurses, said Tuesday it has filed complaints with state and federal regulators about “serious patient safety concerns” at Cincinnati's University Hospital.

        The ONA, based in Columbus, has filed complaints with the Ohio Board of Nursing, the Ohio Department of Health and the federal Health Care Financing Administration, which regulates Medicare.

        “Nurses have reported to us that dangerously low staffing levels at (University Hospital) are putting patients' health, and indeed patients' lives, in serious jeopardy,” said Jean Scholz, ONA's director of nursing practice in Columbus.

        University Hospital is part of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, along with the Christ, Jewish, St. Luke and Fort Hamilton hospitals.

        Gail Myers, spokeswoman for the Health Alliance, said the Alliance will cooperate with any investigation, but denied any risk to patient care.

        “We believe our staffing levels are safe and we would not do anything to jeopardize patient care,” Ms. Myers said.

        Not only is University Hospital actively recruiting nurses, the hospital's nurse vacancy rate is lower than it was a year ago, Ms. Myers said.

        The ONA released no details Tuesday about its allegations. Ms. Scholz could not be reached.



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