Marquette RNs ask MDHHS to investigate patient safety concerns at UPHS-Marquette

Nurses deliver report of over 780 patient care consequences from inadequate or unsafe assignments, request MDHHS investigate
(Marquette, MI) Today, nurses delivered a new report called “Misplaced Priorities: The Deteriorating Condition of Safe Patient Care at Duke LifePoint Upper Peninsula Health System-Marquette” to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Marquette office. The report, delivered by members of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), is the compilation of hundreds of unsafe patient care reports submitted since January 1, 2017.

The report includes numerous incidents of unsafe patient care due to short staffing of nurses:

•    111 reports of one or more IVs running dry or medicines being given late
•    12 reports of one or more patient falls in a shift
(including four in one day in one unit)
•    259 times one or more nurses went with no breaks, lunches, or were
mandated to work overtime, which can be dangerous to patients (up to 16
hour shifts)

“The report we are submitting to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services today shows that over eight months, reports of unsafe patient care due to nurse short staffing were happening over and over and over again. This is Duke LifePoint’s response to the forms nurses submitted—if we don’t acknowledge the problem, it doesn’t exist,” said Tammy Sustarich, an ICU RN. “Nurses know there’s a problem with unsafe staffing at UPHS Marquette and we are prepared to fight until something is done about it.”

Duke LifePoint and Marquette nurses have been in contract negotiations since April 2017. The contract extension that was negotiated in late May lapsed on July 28 after management failed to address staffing concerns. The nurses are currently working without a contract.

“My life and the life of my patients right now is – what if? What if – today brings more patients than we can handle and things go south in a bad way? What if – today another nurse quits in disgust and we continue to do more with even less than we have now? Or, what if – today Duke LifePoint gets serious about providing safe patient care and puts patients before profits?” said Maradie Milkey, a Labor and Delivery RN in the Family Birth Center.

The nurses have repeatedly asked the management at UPHS Marquette to consider their proposals to address the unsafe staffing conditions. Management has responded by rejecting all of the nurses’ proposals twice. In addition to submitting the report, the nurses announced they will be taking a vote next week to authorize the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA negotiating team to call a strike if they feel it is warranted.

“I am disappointed and frustrated that it has come to this,” said Scott Balko, president of the UPHS Marquette RN Staff Council/MNA. “We are seeing a crisis situation unfolding every day in our workplace and our patients are at risk. We have tried reporting it internally and have been ignored. Our patients come first. If it takes reporting UPHS Marquette to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to bring safer patient care to our community, then that’s what we’ll do. We can’t count on Duke LifePoint to prioritize safe patient care.”

A summary of the report can be found at

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