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Nurses Overwhelmingly Approve Contracts for 8000 RNs at 17 HCA-Affiliated Hospitals in Five States

Nurses Overwhelmingly Approve Contracts for 8000 RNs at 17 HCA-Affiliated Hospitals in Five States

Registered nurses voted overwhelmingly to ratify new collective bargaining agreements covering nearly 8,000 RNs at 17 HCA-affiliated hospitals in five states, National Nurses United announced today.

The pacts affect RNs at ten HCA-affiliated hospitals in Florida, four in Texas, and one each in Missouri, Kansas, and Nevada.  HCA is the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States.

The agreements make substantial strides for working conditions for RNs, patient care standards and the quality of care at the 17 facilities as well as noteworthy economic gains.   All the RNs are represented by the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) /National Nurses United (NNU) — the largest organization of registered nurses in the country, with 185,000 members.

“The nurses are thrilled that our collective effort, spanning five states, yielded contracts that support quality patient care. As patient advocates we are very pleased with the results,” said Brandie Stewart, RN, Emergency Department at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Fla.

“We’ve won provisions that will improve recruitment and retention and that really supports our patients receiving the best possible care so we are very happy with the outcome,” said Marissa Lee, Labor and Delivery Unit, Osceola Regional MC, Kissimmee, Fla.

Highlights of the agreements include:

•    Increased enforcement of staffing grids (matrices) that define staffing for safe patient care, including a requirement that RNs scheduled to work cannot be cancelled if it causes the hospital to be out of compliance with their staffing standards.
•    Pilot program to create break relief RNs enabling nurses to take meal and rest breaks.
•    Eight hours of rest for any RN after working a call shift before she can be called back to work to reduce nurse fatigue that can put nurses and patients at risk.
•    Improved health and safety language to strengthen protection for nurses and patients from workplace violence, the spread of infectious diseases, as well as patient handling procedures to reduce the risk of nurse injuries and patient falls and accidents.
•    Improved union and workplace rights for nurses, including a strengthened grievance procedure for disputes, rights to return to work after a leave of absence, and access to union representatives during orientation for new hires.

“One element we really like about this agreement is the pilot program to hire relief nurses to assure that nurses get their meal breaks. This new program assures that we can regularly take our meal breaks so we can return to our patients refreshed and ready to focus on providing them with the best care,” said Cheryl Rodarmel, RN, Rehabilitation Unit, Research Medical Center, in Kansas City, Mo.

All the nurses covered by the agreements will be honored for their service with significant economic improvements that include increases that vary by location, of up to 15 percent over the life of the agreement, with additional increases at some facilities based on years of experience as an RN.

In the Southern States, where the wages are well below the national average for RN wages, the increases will bring wages closer to the national average, promoting retention of experienced nurses, and assisting with recruitment of new nurses for the hospitals.  For the Texas nurses, a new wage system will provide increased equity and more transparency, a major goal for the RNs.

“With the new contract we’ve won creation of a wage scale that acknowledges and rewards nurses’ years of experience. This will curb turnover and encourage both new and experienced RNs to stay at Las Palmas,” said Yadira Cabrera, RN Emergency Department, Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Tex.

“The new wage scale acknowledges years of service and this is a big plus for patient care in every unit of the hospital including the ED where I work. In general the new contract will really help the hospital more consistently comply with its staffing grid,” said Fred Flores, RN Emergency Department, Corpus Christi Medical Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Kansas is 45th in RN wages right now so we are pleased that this agreement leads the way for our state to align wages with the national average. This paves the way for Menorah to recruit and retain experienced RNs and that’s a real win for our patients too,” said Carolyn Lusby, RN, Medical/ Telemetry/PCU, Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kan.

“We worked hard for this contract and now we can’t wait to see the positive impact it will have on a number of levels including staffing. This is key to quality care and that’s why we’re very pleased, ” said Chris Garth, PACU, Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas, Nev.

Nurses working at the following hospitals, all affiliated with Nashville-based HCA, are covered by the new contracts:

Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville
Osceola Medical Center in Kissimmee,
Medical Center of Trinity in Trinity
Central Florida Research Hospital, Sanford
Largo Medical Center, Largo
St. Petersburg General Hospital, St. Petersburg
Northside Hospital, St. Petersburg
Blake Medical Center, Bradenton
Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte
Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Sarasota

Kansas: Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park, Kan.

Missouri: Research Medical Center, Kansas City, Mo.

Corpus Christi Medical Center, Corpus Christi
Las Palmas Medical Center, El Paso
Del Sol Medical Center, El Paso
Valley Regional Medical Center, Brownsville

Nevada: Mountain View Hospital, Las Vegas

Governor Rick Scott Holds Ceremonial Bill Signing for the All-American Flag Act

Governor Rick Scott Holds Ceremonial Bill Signing for the All-American Flag Act

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott ceremonially signed HB 225, the “All-American Flag Act,” requiring all United States and state flags purchased by the state of Florida to be made entirely from domestically grown materials beginning on January 1, 2016. The legislation originated from civics teacher Matt Susin’s high school history classes at Eau Gallie and Viera High Schools in Central Florida.


Representative Bob Cortes said, “It is great to celebrate our national pride today as Governor Scott ceremonially signs the All-American Flag Act at the high school where it originated. We are so proud of our Florida veterans and those who serve to protect our freedom.”

Senator Thad Altman said, “We are proud to be at the school where the All-American Flag Act began and thank Governor Scott for signing this bill into law. Our state and national flags serve as a thank you to our Florida service men and women for their courage and sacrifices.”

Representative Ritch Workman said, “It is great to see students get involved in the legislative process to make a difference. We are thankful for their hard work on this legislation and to Governor Scott for signing the All-American Flag Act.”

Representative Debbie Mayfield said, “We are proud to recognize the brave service of our military men and women who help to protect the values that our national flag represents. It is an honor to stand with the individuals that helped to inspire the All-American Flag Act and we thank Governor Scott for signing this legislation.”

Matthew Susin, teacher at Viera High School, said “The All-American Flag Act is a true example of what we all know exists in our communities, but rarely get to see take form. Born out of the mind of a student in a Brevard Public Schools classroom, our community, in the form of students, parents, veterans, businesses, and government organizations came together to stand for something bigger than themselves, and achieved it. I am grateful that this three year journey comes to a close with the honoring of all those who have fought for our freedom by flying flags for America, only by America.”

American Medicine Chest Challenge Provides Glades County Residents an Opportunity to Safely Dispose of their Unneeded Rx Medicines

American Medicine Chest Challenge Provides Glades County Residents an Opportunity to Safely Dispose of their Unneeded Rx Medicines

GLADES COUNTY — Saturday marks the 9th Annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day but Glades County residents now have the opportunity to dispose of their unused, unwanted and expired medicine around the clock thanks to their Sheriff.

With the support and collaboration of the Florida Sheriffs Association and Allergan, the American Medicine Chest Challenge recently awarded the Glades County Sheriff Department with a permanent collection box for the disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine. This box is located at the Sheriff’s Department 1297 E. State Road 78, Moore Haven, FL 33471 and as accessible to residents 24 hours a day.

“This Rx Disposal Box will help save lives by providing opportunities for Glades County families to safely dispose of potent drugs that have the potential to lead kids down a path to addiction,” according to AMCC Chief Executive Officer Angelo M. Valente, “I applaud Sheriff Stuart Whiddon and his agency for taking steps to protect the families in their community from opiate abuse.

Valente noted, “the goal of this community based public health initiative is to inform families of the importance of disposing excess medicines because they can be a danger lurking in the family home and provide a safe, convenient, and legal option for their disposal. With the AMCC and the help of the Glades County Sheriff, we are calling on residents to see their medicine cabinets through new eyes — as an access point for potential misuse and abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medicine by young people.”

The goal of this program is to provide Florida residents with easy access to deliver all of their unused, unwanted, or expired medications to law enforcement officials who can in turn dispose of these controlled substances in a safe and non-hazardous manner – preventing these pills from falling into the hands of juveniles or into the illicit market in our communities.

“The American Medicine Chest 5-Step Challenge will help save the lives of your children,” Valente explained. He explained that disposal all permanent disposal locations can be found on AmericanMedicineChest.Com or through the AMCC RX Drop Mobile App.

The AMCC challenges families to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

  • Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
  • Secure your medicine chest.
  • Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.
  • Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled prescription drug abuse an epidemic, reporting that the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade and more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, and, there has been a 400% increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs.

Please contact Sergeant David Hardin for any questions you may have.



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Following a meeting between Governor Rick Scott and the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families Mike Carroll today, Governor Rick Scott announced that he will propose over $19 million in his recommended budget for mental health and substance abuse needs in Florida.  This includes $12.8 million for Community Behavioral Health Services, $3.7 million to add more Community Action Treatment (CAT) teams and $2.8 million to expand Family Intensive Treatment (FIT) teams.  This funding will support the efforts outlined in Executive Order 15-175 that Governor Scott issued earlier this month to better coordinate mental healthcare services across Florida.

Governor Rick Scott said, “It is critical that we do all we can to help individuals and families affected by mental illness and substance abuse in our state.  The funding we are announcing today will work side-by-side with the pilot projects Secretary Carroll is conducting in Broward, Alachua and Pinellas counties to review services at the local level so we can understand how to better coordinate care across our state.  We want Florida to be the best state for families to live their dreams and we have to get better at supporting individuals and families affected by mental illness and substance abuse in their communities, instead of in the custody or supervision of the state.  We look forward to announcing more funding in our recommended budget for Floridians struggling with mental illness and substance abuse later this year.”

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Governor Scott’s proposal today is fundamental to executing his Executive Order to develop a more integrated behavioral health service delivery system that will allow more individuals to live and be served in their own communities.  We know that state funding alone will not produce better outcomes for those with mental illness and substance abuse needs, and that is why we are laser-focused on our pilot programs in Broward, Alachua and Pinellas counties so we can develop a more coordinated way to serve patients.  I truly appreciate Governor Scott’s engagement on this critical issue and his commitment to funding these services in his budget.”

The proposed funding for Community Behavioral Health Services will do the following:

  • Work to support individuals with mental health needs in their communities instead of in custody or under supervision of the state.
  • Help transition individuals with mental health needs from state facilities back to their communities so they can get the skills, support and training they need to lead more productive and independent lives.
  • Strengthen counties to work with local entities, law enforcement and non-profit organizations to better serve individuals with behavioral health needs.

The proposed funding for CAT teams will do the following:

  • Add five additional CAT teams in communities that do not currently have them.  CAT teams provide comprehensive treatment to youth with significant behavioral and mental health needs so care can be received in communities.
  • It is estimated that an additional 395 families will be served with this funding.

The proposed funding for FIT teams will do the following:

  • Expand FIT teams to six additional counties that have high numbers of verified abuse and neglect reports related to substance abuse. FIT teams provide intensive team-based, family-focused services to families in the child welfare system with parental substance abuse.
  • It is estimated that an additional 280 families will be served by the expanded FIT teams.

Click HERE to view Executive Order 15-175 signed earlier this month by Governor Scott.

Click HERE to view Executive Order 15-134 signed by Governor Scott in July.

Detectives Need Public’s Help in Locating 79-Year Old Endangered Woman

Detectives Need Public’s Help in Locating 79-Year Old Endangered Woman

Osceola County – Osceola County Sheriff’s detectives need the public’s help in locating Ora “Lea” Taylor Hawkins who was reported missing by her family on September 20, 2015. Ms. Hawkins daughter indicated the last time she saw her mother was on September 19 at noon. On the same day, her daughter received a call from her mother at approximately 8:25 p.m. She said Ms. Hawkins told her she was going to Colorado with Rose, a friend she met at Eastern Avenue Baptist Church in St. Cloud. Ms. Hawkins vehicle is still at her residence on Lake Shore Drive in St. Cloud and her phone is turned off which leads detectives to believe the incident is suspicious.

Ms. Hawkins is described as a 79-year old white female, 5’6”, 136 lbs. with grayish/blonde hair and hazel eyes. She has a scar on the tip of her nose and left cheek which she covers with a Band-Aid. Ms. Hawkins is not known to have any medical conditions. She was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, jean shorts and tan flip flops.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office at (407) 348-2222 or Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS (8477). Calls made to Crimeline remain anonymous, and tips that lead to the felony arrest of suspects and/or the recovery of stolen property and drugs are eligible for cash rewards of up to $1,000 dollars.

Charles Murphy News 9/21

News Cast for September 21st:

IMG_2460The Department of children and families say they are taking more children out of Okeechobee homes to keep them safe. A new policy requires much more in depth interviews and investigations when reports of child abuse are made.

District 19 spokesperson Bob McPartland said a blue ribbon panel investigated the DCF and tried to make improvements. Now they are looking at the entire situation a child faces.

McPartland 1

McPartland 2

While the number of kids being removed has increased, the number of foster homes, only two, have remained the same, meaning a lot of Okeechobee kids are moved out of county and many to places like Fort Myers and Jacksonville.

Smart Assets, a real estate technology firm, says Okeechobee has one of the easiest places in Florida to sell a home. The average days on the market were 37 days in the past year, much lower than the state average.

The average Okeechobee family has lived nearly 15 years in their current home. One negative for the housing market is negative equity, with Okeechobee’s very high. Smart Asset Spokesperson A.J. Smith, the report found that 18.5 percent of Okeechobee homes were sold at a loss in the last year.

Smith 1

Smith 2

09 17 2015 Press News Release Warrant Leads to Drug Arrest

Sports Cast for September 21st:

IMG_2303Danuel (Dan well) Oscar rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns and Mavric Pelletier threw two touchdown passes to lead Sebastian River to aa 41-7 spanking of Okeechobee in high school football action Saturday.

Oscar 1

Okeechobee was held to only 86 yards of total offense in the game.

Oscar said his team came ready to play and wanted to limit what Okeechobee does well. The only Brahman score came on a 33 yard touchdown pass from Bubba Fludd to Jajuan Cherry in the second quarter. Fludd also returned a kickoff 69 yards in the game.

Sebastian Coach Kevin Pettis said his team wanted to win their first district game in the worst way. Jaylen Norris added two touchdown runs and 86 yards for the Sharks.

Pettis 1

Attempted Murder Arrest Palo Verde Drive, Avon Park

Attempted Murder Arrest Palo Verde Drive, Avon Park

On September 17, 2015, at about 11:38 a.m., Consolidated Dispatch received a 911 call from a caller stating their neighbor, Max Horton, was armed with a firearm; he appeared very upset and was threatening to shoot people. The caller then advised the landscapers, who were working in the development, had tackled Horton and taken the firearm away from him and were now holding him on the ground.

Once deputies arrived at 2830 Palo Verde Drive, Avon Park, and took control of the situation, it was learned through investigation that Horton, 91 years old, had become enraged over grass clippings, which had been accidently blown onto a vehicle. Horton got into a verbal argument with the landscaper, Robert Hendrix, 39 years old, and during the argument pulled a handgun and pointed it at Hendrix and ordered Hendrix to get on his knees. Horton told Hendrix he was going to kill him. A fellow landscaper, Johnny Barnes, 53 years old made a move towards Horton in defense of Barnes; at which time, Horton fired off one round from the handgun in the direction of Hendrix. As Horton diverted his attention towards Barns, Hendrix who told detectives he was in fear for his life, reached up and was able to disarm Horton. Hendrix and Barns then physically tackled Horton and held him on the ground until the deputies arrived.

Horton, who received minor injuries when tackled by Barns and Hendrix, was transported by EMS to Highlands Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Room for treatment. Florida Hospital was bypassed because Horton had been trespassed warned from Florida Hospital in September, 2013, due to verbal threats he made to staff members, telling them he had a gun in his vehicle and they would be sorry if he went to get it.

Once cleared from Highlands Regional Medical Center, Horton was booked into the Highlands County Jail for: Attempted First Degree Murder.

Horton remains in the Highlands County Jail under a No-Bond.  Chief Deputy Mark C. Schrader

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call Detective Jody Stowers at 402-7387 or 7250; or if they wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477), or contact them on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com or simply scan the QR code at right. Anonymity is guaranteed

Rooney Votes To Protect Life

Rooney Votes To Protect Life

Two House passed measures prohibit Planned Parenthood funding, protect unborn children

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL- 17) voted today in support of two pro-life bills that made their way to the House floor after ten videos were released showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting of human fetal tissue and organs for sale.

The first bill, titled the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, ensures that no federal funding will go to Planned Parenthood while Congress conducts an aggressive, thorough investigation into the group’s activities. The second bill, titled the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would make it a federal crime for a doctor not to preform standard medical care on a child born alive during an abortion procedure.

“I hold a fundamental belief that innocent life should be valued and protected, especially the life of an unborn child,” Rooney said. “I am disgusted by the horrifying, immoral conduct demonstrated by Planned Parenthood employees in those videos and firmly believe that organizations violating the letter and spirit of the law should not receive a cent from U.S. taxpayers. Those who profit from the business of selling human fetal body parts belong in jail – not on the receiving end of $540 million from taxpayers. This is not a political issue. This is about who we are as Americans and human beings. And it is for these reasons that I voted in support of both of these bills.”

SFWMD to Hold Public Meeting on Real Estate Policies

SFWMD to Hold Public Meeting on Real Estate Policies

The meeting was rescheduled to Nov. 9 during the Project & Lands Committee meeting

WHAT:          The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is seeking public feedback as part of a process to update the agency’s land leasing policy, as well as other real estate policies.

A public meeting originally set for Thursday, Sept. 24, has been rescheduled. The District will now take public comments during an SFWMD Project & Lands Committee meeting on Monday, Nov. 9.

For more information or to submit comments online, please visit www.sfwmd.gov/landleasing.

WHEN:          Monday, Nov. 9, 2015

TIME:            3 p.m.

WHERE:        SFWMD Okeechobee Service Center

3800 N.W. 16th Blvd., Suite A

Okeechobee, FL 24972

Gov. Scott: Florida Added More Than 20,000 Private-Sector Jobs in August

Gov. Scott: Florida Added More Than 20,000 Private-Sector Jobs in August

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida businesses have created 940,600 private-sector jobs since December 2010. Florida’s unemployment rate for August 2015 was 5.3 percent, down 0.6 percentage point from the August 2014 rate and down from 10.7 percent four and half years ago. In August 2015, 20,100 private-sector jobs were created across Florida. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate, now at 3.7 percent, has exceeded that of the nation since April 2012. Governor Scott made the announcement at ADT, a leading home security company headquartered in Boca Raton. ADT has more 3,000 employees in Florida and more than 20 offices across the state.

Governor Rick Scott said, “We are excited to announce that Florida businesses added more than 20,000 new private-sector jobs last month and our unemployment rate has been cut in half over the last four and a half years. We want Florida to be the first in the nation for jobs and with more than 940,000 private-sector jobs added since December 2010, we are well on our way to reaching that goal.”

Luis Orbegoso, President of ADT Business, said, “With an excellent quality of life, wonderful schools, beautiful parks, and no state income tax, ADT is proud to be headquartered in Florida. As one of the oldest and most respected brands in the state, we are excited to welcome Governor Scott here today to share in our growth. ADT is constantly innovating, and we look forward to many more years of success in Florida and nationwide.”

The August 2015 unemployment rate is the lowest since February 2008, when it was 5.2 percent.  Florida’s unemployment rate has declined by 5.4 percentage points since December 2010.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio said, “Florida’s economic resurgence continued in August with a nation-leading growth rate for private-sector jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in seven years. This economic growth is what happens when taxes are kept low and regulation is kept in check. Florida continues to set an example for the nation.”

Other positive economic indicators in Florida include:

  • Florida’s private-sector job growth month-to-month has been positive for 46 consecutive months.
  • Private-sector industries gaining the most jobs over the month in August were education and health services with 14,600 new jobs, leisure and hospitality with 7,800 new jobs, and professional and business services with 3,900 new jobs.
  • Florida job postings showed 274,225 openings in August 2015.
  • In August, Florida’s workforce system, which includes the 24 reported more than 37,900 Floridians, including 2,174 veterans, were placed in jobs.

To view the August 2015 employment data visit www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.

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