Monday, March 28, 2011

The Cameras That Follow Us

There has been a rash of firings at my place of work in recent weeks for different reasons which leave the rest of us who remain quaking in our boots except we don’t wear boots. Nobody seems to be immune to the terminations regardless of how long you have been with the company. Not that the fired people are blameless because they themselves have to answer for their mistakes. So what were these mistakes you ask? One of the first who got fired had been transferred from one shift to another, and one unit to another because she just couldn’t get along with her co-workers, so when she suddenly took several days off without permission because her mother passed away, they found reason to can her. I know, I know, the timing was terrible, however she had a responsibility to at least tell her supervisor what was going on before attending to pressing family affairs. The next two who were fired were people I worked with. This is apparently what happened: one night one of them redirected a patient who wandered into another patients’ room. A week after  the patient got discharged, she reported to the staff at another facility that she was molested by my co-worker who redirected her. That started the ball rolling with a police report and the suspension of two of my co-workers. Why two? We are supposed to check all patients every 15 minutes. Apparently, at the time that one of the workers was redirecting the patient, the other staff member wrote on his check sheet that the patient was asleep. In that case he wasn’t keeping an accurate record of what the patient was doing. That may have been the primary reason for his suspension. So why were the two fired a couple of weeks later? This is where the cameras come in. All the hallways of our hospital are monitored by cameras connected to DVR’s which can record activities for a whole month before restarting at the beginning of the disk. Well, these two co-workers have a tendency to sit at their respective corners for extended periods of time without getting up to do their frequent checks. When the camera is zoomed, they can be seen snoozing in their chairs. By the way, the cameras are high definition so it’s hard to deny that you are indeed that person sitting in that corner. So what led to their downfall in the end was not the accusation of molestation, but rather the sleeping on the job. How did their firings affect me? Those were the two people I relied on working for me if I wanted to take an extra day off. Now I have to find someone else to cover for me and it’s been difficult so far. The reason why I have to take an extra day off every two weeks is because my vacation time has reached its limit and I couldn’t earn any more.
On another unit, a registered nurse and two mental health workers were also fired because a patient complained about being beaten up by them. Apparently the patient had facial bruises. In this line of work, we often have to deal with violent patients and from time to time place them in a locked room or in restraints. Some staff members though can become too rough when “taking down” a patient which could lead to serious injuries. Of course not only the patient can get injured in these “take downs”, the staff can too. I don’t know exactly what happened in this instance but the cameras probably also played a major role in contributing to the evidence against these three staff members.
Another termination happened to one of the employees who had been working at her unit for about 14 years. The claim against her? Falsification of records. One of the patients climbed a wall and escaped during a smoke break in the evening, however this staff member continued to write on her check sheet that the patient was still on the unit. It was not until another staff member saw the escapee near a grocery store down the street did the unit become aware of the breakout. A lot of the workers here question why it took three weeks before the unfortunate long term worker was fired. She was even in my electronic medical records class last week.
So lately we have become more aware and vigilant of the presence of the electronic eyes that follow us wherever we go or whatever we do in the hospital. You never know if one slip will be the one which would include you in the ranks of the unemployed. Was that a temblor that just happened, or were those just my knees quaking in fear?
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