Austin Medical Center nurses to lose positions in new year

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

By Trisha Marczak, staff writer

Twelve Austin Medical Center nurses learned in a meeting Tuesday evening that their positions will be eliminated by the start of the new year.

The 12 licensed practical nurses will be replaced by registered nurses, effective Dec. 31.

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Diane Twedell, chief nursing officer at AMC, said the move, although unfortunate, reflects the changing face of healthcare and patients’ needs within the hospital setting.

“Hospital care has changed incredibly,” Twedell said following Tuesday’s meeting.

LPNs employed in the telemetry, medical/surgical/pediatrics, psychiatric, home health care and hospice units will be replaced by a combination of RNs and nursing assistants.

Twedell said that while LPNs have done a good job for the hospital and the units, patients are requiring care and services only RNs are legally allowed to administer. Patients are now coming to the hospital with a number of chronic diseases and are staying in the hospital for shorter periods of time than in the past, she said.

Nurses affected by the hospital’s switch have been with AMC anywhere from four to 47 years. Twedell said AMC is doing what it can to accommodate employees’ needs.

All nurses will be met with one-on-one to discuss future options, including early retirement, degree reimbursement and transfer opportunities. For those seeking transfer opportunities, positions are available within the clinic, as well as other clinics and departments within the Mayo Health Care system.

AMC is the last hospital within the Mayo system to implement the switch from LPNs to RNs in the four units. All other hospitals have made the transition within the last few years, Twedell said.

The hospital’s units that have not been affected by the change from LPNs to RNs include outpatient surgery, urgent care and the clinic. Twedell said Tuesday that the hospital has no plans on eliminating LPN positions within those departments.

Cost played no factor in the decision, according to AMC officials.

Nurses approached leaving Tuesday’s meeting declined to comment on the matter.

When asked why nurses were notified a week in advance of the meeting, Twedell said she wanted to give them adequate time to clear their schedules so that they could attend the mandatory meeting.