I’m sure you know by now, but I am a working mom. I am a nurse, and I work for a big hospital system here in Atlanta. For the most part, this is a good thing. I work 3 days a week. I have healthcare. My job can fun, interesting and challenging.
I work 12 long hours when I work. That means that sometimes, I only know it’s daylight from looking out of my patient’s window. I work weekends, I work holidays. My job is hard on my body( you try turning a 500+ pound patient who is dead weight due to an epidural), I stand all day, I barely have time to pee, I get dehydrated( due to a new policy where we can’t drink at the nurses station) and sometimes I don’t get lunch. Oh, and the cost of my healthcare goes up every year.
And now, on top of all that, my job has instituted a new attendance policy.
Get this: You can only call in 4 times in a rolling calender year.
Marinate on that for a moment.
The way most hospitals here do it, your time off and sick days are rolled into one big bank. There is no difference. So if you call out sick at lot, you have no vacation time. I know a nurse last year who had the flu. She had a documented Doctor’s excuse. BUT, because she called out so many times because she couldn’t get out of the bed, they wrote her up. Why? Attendance policy says 4 call outs. And on top of that, she couldn’t go on her planned European vacation without time off. Because she had used it all up being sick.
Another scenario: Say you are a working mom like me, and you have a young toddler. Toddlers get sick. Toddlers have to be fever free for 24 hours before they go back to school. Toddlers can not stay home by themselves. My toddler, has the additonal benefit of having allergies, wanna be asthma and chronic ear infections. That’s four days gone during allergy season alone.
Now, to be fair to my job, after that four call outs, you get a warning. But when you get to six, you are fired.
Once again, marinate on that for a minute.
Sooo, as a working mom, I have a delimma. There are many many days where I have a migraine, I have gasrointesinal issues, womanly issues, I’m sick with a cold, or I just don’t feel good. And what do I do? I take my ass on to work because basically, I have no choice in the matter. Because I’ve got to save my days for when my child is sick. And oh, did I forget to mention that it specifically says in this new policy that “a sick child is not an excuse”?
Now, I can hear you saying, what about C-Dub LaShawn, can’t he stay home with Pookah sometimes??? Yes. And he does. But even he can’t do it all the time. His time off builds from month to month. If he works from home, he actually has to work. Not take care of his sick kid. He calls me all day long at work with updates and “what should I do” questions.
We try to rotate it, but if Pookah has a bad season, I’m the one who looses out. Because you just know, Pookah is going to pass his little germs on to his parents. Who are now out of days because they’ve been home with him.
So I and my fellow nurses dope ourselves up and take our butts on in to work, praying that we last 12 hours of hard physical labor while popping tylenol and dayquil to keep fevers and coughing at bay.
I’m writing about this today because it bugs me. We are approaching flu season around here, and I am scared. You see, I am at the 4. Because we have a rolling year, I drop one of those call outs this month and will be down to 3 again. But what if the fall allergy system hits Pookah hard like the spring one did? What if I get sick? What if any of us catches the flu? I’ll be out of a job with two more call outs.
And that my friends, is some bull shit.
My job isn’t allowing for the ‘what ifs”. It isn’t allowing for working mothers and that flexibility that nursing is known for. They just rolled out a blanket policy and said here. This is what we’re doing. Deal with it. Sure, if I had family near by, this wouldn’t be an issue. But I don’t. It’s just me and CDub.
And no one at my job seems to care.