California hospitals phase out LVN position to focus on high-quality care

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, October 16, 2007

Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Sacramento and Roseville, CA, are to replace their licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) with registered nurses (RNs) as part of efforts to provide a higher-level of care to patients. A total of 280 Kaiser LVNs will be affected by this change, which was made following negotiation between the health maintenance organization and United Healthcare Workers West, the labor union representing the LVNs.

According to Sandy Sharon, assistant administrator of patient care services for Kaiser's Roseville Medical Center, the change is being made due to the evolving complexity of the nursing environment. Higher-level nurses are increasingly needed to provide care to critically ill patients, and LVNs are restricted in some areas of practice. For example, LVNs are not held responsible for patients' overall care plans, they cannot give drugs intravenously, and they cannot monitor critically ill patients. The LVNs affected by this change at Kaiser Roseville and Sacramento hospitals have been given a few options: accept a severance package, enter a training program--funded by Kaiser--to obtain a registered nursing degree or qualification in a similar specialty, or vie for LVN jobs in a non-hospital Kaiser organization. LVNs have a few months to make their decision and workforce changes will be finalized at the beginning of 2008.


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