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Marquette hospital faces nurse shortage

Nicole Walton

MARQUETTE, MI-- UPHS-Marquette is losing nursing staff at an alarming rate, but administrators say they can’t do anything about it.

That’s according to Stephanie DePetro, vice president of the Michigan Nurses Association. She says 13 RNs have left the hospital in the past six weeks, and sometimes the patient-to-nurse ratio is 9-1.

DePetro says rural Marquette isn’t considered a desirable place to work.

“And there are other places willing to give us a better assignment, better pay, better benefits, and incentives to join their workgroup, rather than stay here.”

Hospital administrators say their hands are tied by headquarters in Tennessee. But DePetro says while Marquette staff is working 16-hour shifts, employees at UPHS-Bell were recently given up to 40 hours of paid time off (PTO).

“And when you’re constantly told, ‘There’s nothing we can do, our hands are tied,’ and then two days later a hospital 12 miles up the road from you is offered up to 40 hours of additional PTO for their staff? It was a slap in the face.”

Administration met with nurses on Tuesday. The union submitted a couple of proposals aimed at alleviating the staffing problem, and hopes to hear from the hospital next week.

“We are hemorrhaging staff. We need to do something,” DePetro says.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.