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Some Nurses Blue Over Color-Coded Uniform Policy

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 23, 2012

After months of discussions and feedback, he says, about 5,500 of the 8,500 staff who would be affected by the mandate voted to pick their colors in a December ballot. "We had good turnout, about 60%. Not everybody who was eligible to vote did, but a pretty large percentage did," he says. "We kept the union informed as we went through the process. We provided a lot of input opportunities from the nurses themselves. I would say we did not negotiate this with the union in any formal sense." 

Nurses chose navy blue. "Nurses being by far the largest group under this program, they were able to choose the color they wanted," Kanihan says. "They are a much bigger voting block than, say, housekeepers."

Kanihan says the grievance filing will not delay the May 1 launch of the color-coded uniform requirement. "We announced the results earlier this year and a lot of nurses and other staff have already started this," he says. "We made the requisite color choices available to all of our people at a discount through a Website we set up. We're providing some level of subsidy to help employees buy their first few uniforms. Many have already done it. On May 1 we require it."

Jaci Krech, RN, administrative director of orthopedics and surgical services at Woodwind Health Campus, in Woodbury, Minn., says the 86-bed acute care hospital has used color-coded uniforms for the past five years. She believes staff at the nonunion hospital—part of the HealthEast Care System—have embraced color-coded uniforms because staff were involved in the process from the onset, and because they believe it improves patients' experiences.

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9 comments on "Some Nurses Blue Over Color-Coded Uniform Policy"


sharon (2/10/2014 at 9:54 PM)
I feel like I am a professional and I should be able and allowed to choose the color I wish to wear, I believe employee satisfaction leads to greater patient satisfaction and my employer treating me like a child and showing no respect or regard for my satisfaction does not lead to anything but resentment. I announce who I am when I enter the room (AIDET), I have a name badge identifying who I am and I truly do not believe that my uniform color will do anything to improve any part of my patients satisfaction.

Kari (4/27/2012 at 7:26 PM)
The last hospital I worked in had colored coded scrubs for different entities: RN, NA's, RT, Radiology, etc.. It was actually wonderful and the patients and families were very satisfied. It also helped staff to recognized each other as well.

Linda (4/27/2012 at 11:34 AM)
They should be allowed to wear what they want! NAMETAGS say WHO they are & WHAT they do!!!! Ex:LPN-how much simpler can one get???