National Nurses United

National Nurse Magazine Jan-Feb 2011

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Profile_Jan 2/24/11 9:11 PM Page 15 computerized charting and other EMR systems often has hindered the ability of nurses to practice their profession, her "fight has always been for the frontline people to have ease and accessibility," said Goddeeris. When she is not acting as a nursing leader, Goddeeris is busy as a civic leader in her community of East Lansing. Having previously served on the city's planning commission and various other committees, Goddeeris threw her hat into the ring for an appointment to a vacant spot on the East Lansing City Council in 2006. She was selected and reelected in 2007. As a member of the council and its current mayor (the mayorship rotates among the councilmembers), Goddeeris has been confronting challenges common to many "Nurses are not silly angels. A nurse is a municipalities, such as how to keep healthcare costs down for strong, smart person making life-and-death city employees and how to keep and create jobs. decisions. And NNU is the nurses' movement Though she is proud to have helped keep the inflation now, with nurses united across the country of East Lansing's healthcare costs to 3.5 percent this past fighting for the same things: safe, quality year, Goddeeris said it's not sustainable and supports a patient care and safe working conditions." single-payer healthcare system. "Working in this healthcare system, I've seen all the options," she said. "There's no question we have to change, and the only way we can get change is if nurses have a voice and are at the table." better and better contracts for her hospital that addressed appropriate "There's a lot of work to do with nursing, and it isn't easy to get RN staffing as well as staffing for other professions, language against nurse involvement," said Goddeeris, remembering the hectic earlier unsafe floating, and the elimination of mandatory overtime. Goddeeris worked her way up to become treasurer, then vice pres- days of her career with work, young children, and her community activities. "And that's okay, but you still have a responsibility as a memident, and eventually president of the Michigan Nurses Association ber to support your union and be doing something, whether that's in 2007. While president, she tackled the thorny issue of extricating through a donation or just reading everything to stay informed." MNA from the American Nurses Association and successfully spearheaded the campaign to disaffiliate in summer 2008—as did many other state nursing organizations around that time. Lucia Hwang is editor of National Nurse. For decades, the ANA had been collecting millions of dollars in dues from its state affiliates—the vast majority of which were paid by direct-care, staff nurses—yet did very little to address the concerns of bedside nurses or even actively worked against their interests by siding with hospital management and corporations. Hospitals were consolidating and restructuring in pursuit of higher profits, which meant massive layoffs of nurses and dramatic Name: Diane Goddeeris, RN changes in the way remaining RNs practiced nursing. Yet the ANA, Facility: Sparrow Hospital whose leadership was dominated by nursing executives and educators, did little to defend the practice of staff nurses. Unit: OB informatics "Our members were sending dues to ANA but we didn't feel staff Nursing for: 34 years nurses were respected or our issues were given any attention," rememSign: Pisces bered Goddeeris. "There were so many changes in healthcare." So after Pet nursing peeve: When nurses don't getting approval from the Michigan membership, Goddeeris announced stretch outside their comfort zone and on June 27, 2008 at the ANA convention, "Bye, we're leaving." realize they have the power to make a MNA shifted its energies into working with United American Nursdifference. es, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and the California Nurses Favorite work snack: "Give me a bag Association to form National Nurses United in 2009. She said that the of chips and I'm happy." creation of NNU was one of the seminal moments of her nursing career. Latest work accomplishment: Proud of the mentoring she's She is proud of NNU's already phenomenal growth through new organdone with some nurses within MNA and her OB unit izing of nurses, especially in right-to-work states where under convenColor of favorite scrubs: She doesn't wear scrubs now, tional wisdom most unions would not venture. She's gratified to be but red working with a nursing association that actually fights to improve the Hobbies: Community work and serving on the city council! practice of nursing and increase staffing at the bedside. And she is glad Favorite show: "Reality TV shows are my guilty pleasure, espeto be part of a real nurses' movement where nursing leaders are now cially the ones like Survivor or The Amazing Race where people linked across the country, learning from and mentoring one another. have to figure out how to be a leader and solve puzzles." In her current position as an OB informatics nurse, Goddeeris helps Secret talent unrelated to nursing: Any card game involving her hospital build its electronic medical records system for the obstetrics strategy. She often plays the game 500. unit, acting as the bridge between the technology and the needs of nurses to provide safe patient care. While the switch of many hospitals to cessful unionizing efforts by all the employees at Sparrow in 1987 and did her best to stay involved by attending Professional Employee Council at Sparrow Hospital (PESCH) meetings. Though Goddeeris had always kept her schedule full with work, family, teaching, and community projects, she started in the early 1990s to have more time to devote to union activism. She started out by replacing a PESCH bargaining committee member and continued to help bargain Profile JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2011 W W W. N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G N AT I O N A L N U R S E 15

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