Bad Timing…or Bad Leadership?

Sally Lemke, a nurse in the Chicago area, was named VNA Foundation “Super Star” on July 10th. She’ll be without a Job on July 30th according to the Chicago Sun-Times.Ms. Lemke is, by all accounts, a great person and a great nurse. She’s volunteered her time to making the world a better place for a lot of people. She’s been in the Peace Corps and has been involved in setting up many health clinics across the country to serve the underprivileged. While in Chicago, she has helped setup a very well regarded prenatal care group with the Cook County Health System.

Apparently, the Cook County Health System isn’t run well and is in a cost cutting mode right now and are using the the nursing union as a scapegoat for the system’s financial woes. According to the Chicago Sun Times story:

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s aides blamed Lemke’s departure on union contracts that place more weight on seniority than talent.

Lemke came to the county just 18 months ago, after an impressive career that has seen her working in grass-roots, community-based programs across the country. She is a nurse practitioner, a position that requires advanced education and allows her to provide care similar to a physician.

County officials, she said, offered her little choice: a lower-paying job as a basic floor nurse or a layoff.

Hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon called her “one of the best nurses we have” and “we want to retain her,” but he said there “really isn’t” any administrative or management job he could offer her. “She decided to leave to go some place that will respect her talents,” he said.

Simon has repeatedly said there’s no bureaucracy or patronage that can be cut in order to save nursing jobs, but nursing union officials say that’s not true.

When I see something like this, I have to wonder…was this bad timing or bad leadership? Most times, its bad leadership.

Its my opinion that a good leader would see the awarding of the “Super Star” designation to Ms Lemke and use that to their advantage to build a better public image of the hospital system and attract more nursing ‘super stars’. Instead, the leadership of the hospital did the opposite thing and showed that they really don’t care about having quality nurses as part of their organization.

Hat tip to the Freakonomics Blog for links to the original stories.

[tags] Human Resources, Leadership, Bad timing, Bad Leadership [/tags]