1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, news director

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In 1997 the University of California-Davis Medical Center in Sacramento became the first hospital in California to claim bragging rights to the coveted Magnet designation for excellence in nursing care, awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). But in its recent bid to renew its Magnet status, the facility was turned down.


In an interview with AJN, Carol Robinson, UC-Davis's director of nursing, blamed the denial on difficult labor negotiations with the California Nurses Association (CNA). "Most of my nurses are grieving the loss and are angry at the union," Robinson says, explaining that the CNA voiced its intent to "tell everyone why UC-Davis should not get Magnet designation." Robinson shared with AJN e-mails from CNA labor representative Max Carbuccia, written on September 29, 2005, asking for volunteers to distribute flyers to that effect, but he subsequently canceled those plans. "I'm not sure whether the appraisers really understand the issues that exist in a union environment," Robinson says.


In addressing two areas in which she said deficiencies were cited, Robinson said that some communication that normally occurs between leadership and staff was curtailed because of the sensitivity of ongoing labor negotiations, and she did acknowledge that there are some staffing inadequacies. But she also said that UC-Davis has an all-RN staff, better than a 1-to-4 nurse-to-patient ratio, and lower-than-average vacancy and turnover rates.


Beth Keane, the CNA's director of the University of California division, maintains, however, that "Any loss of Magnet designation is not about the CNA," Keane says. "We are being scapegoated. The real issue is chronic understaffing."


Elaine Scherer, director of the ANCC's Magnet Recognition Program, would not cite specifics but did confirm UC-Davis's loss of Magnet status. She says that the program is aware of the impact a union can have: "This is not the first time this has come up. The commission [on Magnet recognition] continually discusses these issues. UC-Davis does have the option of appealing the ruling, and we certainly hope they take that option if they disagree with the outcome. The nurses and chief nursing officer are excellent. We're not saying that they don't do good work, but among the 168 criteria we look at, there were a few things lacking."


There are 194 Magnet facilities; about 86% are successful in renewing their Magnet status.


Robinson has no plans to appeal the ruling. "I truly believe we have good processes and professional nurses who are committed to doing a good job," she says. "I will not be held hostage by the CNA, so I will not appeal and give the union something else to use."