Some Nurses Blue Over Color-Coded Uniform Policy

John Commins, April 23, 2012

The Minnesota Nurses Association has filed a grievance against Allina Hospitals & Clinics, claiming that the Minneapolis-based health system violated its labor contract when it unilaterally instituted a color-coded uniform requirement that will go into effect on May 1.

"We didn't get the opportunity to negotiate this issue and it does fall under the terms and conditions of employment," says Bernadine Engeldorf, RN, first vice president of the 20,000-member MNA. "The union contract states that the expectation is that this will be negotiated.

"We didn't see evidence of a need to change what we're doing, and there wasn't an ability to sit down and have that dialogue," she says.

Allina spokesman David Kanihan says the 11-hospital health system has been talking about the switch to mandatory color-coded uniforms for "quite some time," and has "made a very dedicated effort to involve" staff.

"The reason we are doing it is because patients have told us they have a hard time telling who's who and what's what," Kanihan says. "A lot of people come into their rooms for various reasons during the course of a day and one of the things we are trying to get after is making sure that the patients understand what is going on and who they can ask for certain things. It just makes the hospital stay that much easier for the patient."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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