Some Nurses Blue Over Color-Coded Uniform Policy
"It is about really understanding the 'why' behind it—of knowing what is the purpose you are looking for and seeking feedback from the community," Krech says. "It's important that the key stakeholders are involved in the dialogue to identify 'is this the right path we want to go down and how do we want to engage the rest of the stakeholders in the decision making?'"
At Allina, Kanihan says employees support the new uniforms policy.
"They understand why we are doing it and they support the idea that it makes the hospital stay easier for patients and they want and support that," he says.
Engeldorf says dissent has been muzzled. "Are most nurses in favor of this? I think most nurse believe they have to do it because the employer is saying you will do this," she says. "Some nurses say it's a good idea but most nurses believe we should have had the right to negotiate the issue."
Kanihan says nurses and other staff may face disciplinary action if they show up for work on May 1 not wearing their appropriate colors. "They will be asked to change if they have the ability to go home and change or potentially they could be provided a set of scrubs of the appropriate color at the hospital," he says. "Repeated violations would kick off a disciplinary process but it is not going to be a heavy-handed thing. We will work with people to try to remove any barriers that might be in the way of them complying."
Engeldorf says many nurses are resigned to the mandate. "Are we going to have an action and people will show up to work and refuse to wear their uniforms? I doubt that will happen," she says. "But I've had nurses tell me 'I am doing this because I have to but I am waiting until the last day to do it.'"
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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