Y2K Fears To Keep Thousands of Workers At Home

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Just up on AP Breaking News:

Y2K Fears To Keep Thousands of Workers At Home

[ For Educational Purposes Only ]

4/4/99 -- 1:29 PM

CLEVELAND (AP) - Save the champagne for another occasion. This New Year's Eve is going to be dry for thousands of workers pulling Y2K duty.

Fears that the Year 2000 computer bug will create havoc has caused companies nationwide to limit - even forbid - vacation time at the end of the year.

Some of the bans are just a couple days or so. Others will last months. Technicians, utility workers, bankers, city employees, emergency personnel and financial consultants are among those who'll be shelving their party hats and noisemakers come Dec. 31.

The blackout periods have some workers grousing, but others are taking the situation in stride.

Willie Kennedy had hoped to toast the new year in the Caribbean warmth of Aruba. He and his wife, Shawn, had planned the island trip for years.

Instead, Kennedy, a computer technician for the Cleveland-based bank KeyCorp, will watch the calendar turn at his desk while his wife celebrates at home with their two pre-teen sons.

``We thought it'd be nice to sit on a warm beach while Cleveland is freezing. Now it's out of the question,'' says Kennedy, who is in charge of making sure the computer system doesn't crash in any of KeyCorp's 960 branches. The bank has told about a fourth of its workers they will have New Year's Eve duty.
.... [ snip ]
``During that time frame, my heart is going to be racing so fast with excitement. This is the biggest New Year's Eve of a lifetime and the biggest for my career,'' Kennedy says.

Although KeyCorp and thousands of other companies believe they're Y2K compliant, they don't want to take any chances. Among employers imposing vacation bans are:

- Merrill Lynch, with 64,000 employees worldwide, has asked managers and other key personnel not to take time off from Dec. 1 through Feb. 15, 2000.

- Detroit Edison Co. has banned vacations for its 8,400 utility workers from Dec. 27 to Jan. 7, 2000.

- Southern Company, a leading national private provider of electricity, based in Atlanta, is figuring out how many workers to pull in over the holiday weekend. ``It's not across-the-board, but management is determining the need for people to be accessible on a department-by-department basis,'' said spokesman Mike Tyndall.

- The DuPage County Sheriff's office, just west of Chicago, has blocked off all of November, December and January for its 530 employees, ranging from deputies to secretaries.

``I don't want to be Chicken Little, but I don't know if the sky will be falling,'' says Sheriff John Zaruba, who plans to treat his workers to pizza on New Year's Eve.

More than half the 200-plus chief information officers and technology executives polled by CIO magazine earlier this year said they would ban vacations for information technology staffers in the week around New Year's.

The Federal Reserve, anticipating a surging demand for cash toward year's end, plans to stockpile an extra $200 billion, one-third more than normal, and the Fed branch in Cleveland is asking its 1,200 employees to be available from Dec. 27 to Jan. 10, 2000.

``People don't have to be there for 24 hours during those two weeks. We just don't know what might happen and want everyone on call,'' said spokeswoman June Gates.

The Sabre Group, a travel and transportation technology company based in Fort Worth, Texas, will have officials in a command center tracking the new year's arrival around the world. Spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson said heavy staffing is also planned for the company's Tulsa, Okla., data center.

For having to work during ``what really amounts to an important world event,'' she said, rewards will likely include a later party for workers and their families - ``a kind of roll-back-the-clock party.''

Heather Grzelecki, 21, reacted with far less equanimity when she found out about a two-week vacation ban for all city employees in Macedonia, about 20 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Ms. Grzelecki, a city tax preparer, usually spends the week after Christmas with friends and family.

``It's aggravating. If something goes wrong, there's nothing we can do but look at each other,'' she said. ``Why should I sit here doing nothing when I could be with my family?''

Ms. Grzelecki said she thinks the Y2K scare is being blown out of proportion.
``They're acting like some crazy monster is going to come in and gobble everything up. It's not going to happen. Everyone is into this way too deep.''

Sheila Walton, 49, of Cleveland is looking on the bright side. The Red Cross worker will be joining dozens of emergency personnel standing by in case electric power is interrupted or phone lines go dead.

``At least I'll have something to do this New Year's Eve,'' said Mrs. Walton, a social worker who usually spends that night at home watching television while her husband sleeps.

``If there's nothing going on, then it'll be a party for the emergency workers,'' she said. ``Of course, they're going to have to be sober.''


Probably by December 20, 1999, a large percentage of companies and businesses will decide to have key employees on standby. Wonder what the spin will be December 28, 1999 ???? Will they own up to potential disaster by then?

xxxxxxxxxx xxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999


This article did not say much about medical personnel. We know of a couple hospitals that are just starting to announce that there will be no leave or vacations late December through middle February. Have heard a couple employees say, "Well then we will just quit." How this plays out will be interesting. By late December many will be conditioned to accept it and go along with their peers. Will the hospitals release employees after TSHTF, before they have to close down? Timing will be everything.

mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmm mmmm

-- Ashton (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999.

Well, if I can't get my time off in parts of December and January, I'm quitting. I have to write instructions down for my boss to shut off the computer. He won't upgrade the OS because he woundn't know what NT was if it hit him in the head (which it most likely will). This whole mess is a perfect example of how we have let technology run over us.

The tech has surpassed our ability to understand it. If Y2K does't get us, something else will soon. We've dumbed down our educational system. We allow people to use tools that they have no understanding of.

-- d (d@dgi.old), April 04, 1999.

Considering the number of people who want to quit, and the number of people that will become necessary to man the outposts manually, there may be a swelling sea-change in January 2000 of workers. How will companies recruit, add, replace, if electricity and phones are down?

What will the Want Ads look like January 22, 2000?

mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmm mmmmmmm

-- Ashton (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999.

At the hospital where I work,no vacations will be granted Dec. 27 - Jan. 10,2000. Most key people, especially clinical staff will be working. Plans are underway to house families of employees also. They will be providing meals and lodging. All our prepartations have be done with the thought of us being at home. This sheds a different light on the situation now.....

Quielty Lurking

-- quietly lurking (quietly@preparing.com), April 04, 1999.

Quietly, are you in a region which could get snowed in around that time, typically?

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999.

Good question Leska! I live in Minneapolis. If the plows aren't running, a snow storm could cripple the city.

-- d (d@dgi.old), April 04, 1999.

Hi there d, no thread killer you ;-)
The reason I wonder about snow is, the Hospital where we worked had some snow & ice storms in the past and *required* the employees to stay, as their reliefs couldn't get in. However, the Hospital did not provide for their comfort. They were not allowed to use the beds! This cracked us up as those employees were the ones making & cleaning the beds; there's no great mystery to hospital beds.

So the contingency plans for snowstorms were not employee-friendly, and I was wondering if Quietly had anything comparable to ascertain just how his/her hospital actually would treat the employees/families. At the Hospital where we worked, the families of the patients were not allowed to stay over, which was terrible because many were rushed in from out of town. Don't trust Hospitals anymore. Attrition at the one we worked for is now very high. Our feeling is: "Don't allow yourself to get stuck in a Hospital!"

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999.


I've been a fan of your postings for quite some time. I hope that I won't kill this thread. ;) I was wondering if my understanding of the medical scene is correct.

It seems that the people who are actually admistering care are being hampered by the people that run the hospitals. Has profit taken over in the "care giving" profession? Is this why health care is so far behind? I imagine that most people who get into the area are interested in helping people. Has health care gone the way of politics?

-- d (d@dgi.old), April 04, 1999.

d, I don't know how to answer your questions. We've been strictly on the end of the caregiver, and can't really speak for hospital managers as they repulse us. We did observe that various insurance/reimbursement squeezes pushed compassion away from the forefront of managers' concerns.
The way of politics? *That* seems so far removed from any reality, don't think it is quite that bad. At least in the Hospital where we worked, the managers still did walk through the halls on their way to and from meetings. I never saw a manager talk to a patient or give hands-on care, but rumor had it that at one time they did.

We saw amazing stupidity, lack of cohesion and concern for patients or workers, and a spiral downhill. We got out just before it really got nasty. It seemed that 10001 factors interferred with the basics, to the point that fundamental safety, courtesy, and love were never even considered; we were viewed as freaks for genuinely caring and tracking our patients.

We have deliberately kept ourselves at the "lowest" level of patient care to ensure that we are the ones who actually do give patient care, and to free us from the corruptions and strange morphs that those in "higher" positions appear to undergo. It is difficult to speak for the ossified upper echelon because we cannot imagine good reasons for their twisted thoughts and behaviors. We do not in any way want to become like them!

Other times on the Forum we've expressed more about the misdirections of health care, but today we're sort of petered out on most topics. We're going to focus on some other stuff for awhile and recharge. Gotta recyle our interests and activities to stay fresh ;^D
See y'all sooner or later, and Happy Easter :-)

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 04, 1999.

The companies and agencies are all being mean to their employess and stupid too! Don't they watch TV? The TV said there won't be any problems! Why can't the workers go on vacation? Aruba will blame us on no tourist dollars and start another war! Why do they all want employees to stay 24 hours a day for three weeks? The TV said we will have a weekend snowstorm - three days! Can't they go on vacation and be with their families after the storm is over on January 4? So confused!!

-- Couch Potatoe (WachingTV@home.cnn), April 04, 1999.


How can anyone solve this problem? Jeepers... I almost hate becoming more aware of the current inconsistencies. I do truly believe that most care givers on the person to person level are really in it to help. I don't doubt your motivations for a second.

Y2K has, if nothing else, shown me the weakness of our current systems. The current predicament with health care is about as mind blowing a discovery as any of this. I commend you for sticking with it.

If I recall properly, you folks don't have a ton of money to prepare with. Are you folks involved with ham radio? I'm planning on getting some equipment. As confused as I am I want you folks to make it. We need people like you. Dgi, Gi, what ever. We need you. You are more important than 100 milnes. Don't ever give up.

-- d (d@dgi.old), April 04, 1999.

Leska, We're in an area of the country that very rarely sees snow or ice. I'm sorry you've had a negative experiences with hospitals. Yes employees and families who will need lodging and meals will be given them. I understand we also are considering being prepared if the families/employee have children...providing some type of activities/diversion for them. These are all prelim. contingency plans. I'm not in the very top level of managenment, but close enough to be aware of the plans as well as having the opportunity to provide input.

Hope everyone had a great Easter/Passover.


-- Quietly Lurking (Quietly@preparing.com), April 04, 1999.


It must be the way you describe your hospital experiences in many public service sector businesses. We have the same problems in the public sector business I work in too. Management that is often completely detached from the service and the workers, the ossification and in-breeding of the decision makers especially at the top, the ancient, wheezing equipment, the bottom line that always looms heavily over common sense whether it be adequate staffing, overtime allottments, allowing leave etc.

Some places are worse than others in my business. Seems that the bigger the workplace the worse the problems. I am fortunate in that my personal manager can be reasoned with and that we have a fairly strong, and thus far, non-corrupt labor organization to help things along. I fully expect to hear something about leave numbers in December-January within a month. I am planning to take leave in the first week of January so we shall see how it goes...

Good luck to you. I read a post earlier this week about a hospital making plans for it's workers to stay there over the roll over period with their families to ensure that they will come to work. Hopefully that isn't a term of employment. If it is, that's very Orwellian and somewhat scary.

-- Ramp Rat (Aviation_R_us@noname.nocity), April 04, 1999.

Leska and Ashton Just want you to know that you're not alone regarding your views of hospitals. My husband and I are both in the medical profession. (Jim is a CRNA and I worked OR 20 years and 5 years PACU) We've watched the skyrocketing price of healthcare wreak havoc on the operation of the hospital. Administrations that once viewed nursing care as their prime asset began to cut back on that very asset in order to remodel or add services purely to be competitive. Nurses no longer retired after years of service they were reassigned and pushed into resignation.

Then we watched as the administrations were shuffled and businessmen with no medical background were hired. Nurses were given clipboards and became managers, case managers, risk managers,and payroll managers. Unfortunately, as managers, they have forgotten that our's is a caring profession first and documentation and JACHO has become their limited concern. Supervisors were put in charge of four and five different speciality services,(OR, PACU, ER, OB, Central Supply) not able to handle even one area effectively. Several of the hospitals we have worked at have had three and four name changes in the past three years. We can hardly keep up with who our employer is let alone the turnover of employees, and there is never enough staff, so they are not happy employees.

My sister, also a nurse in PA, was told recently at a meeting that the hospital was once again in dire financial trouble and they cited y2k as one reason. She is once again fearing for her job.

I've gone to relief status but Jim continues to do what he loves which is patient care. Would love to email and share experiences. Stick in there, caring professionals are hard to find these days. You guys are not alone though.

-- Carol Dufene (jdufrene@laci.net), April 05, 1999.

Leska Keep up the good fight. Don't ever let them see you cry!! The best for you and your famly.

-- go gal (been@there.dt), April 05, 1999.

d, Quietly, Ramp, and Carol -- Wow! Hospital blues company!

Carol, you described our experiences EXACTLY! In the last three years we've seen a plummet down the precipice into crazy working conditions. The experienced, rock-solid nurses were forced out, and younger nurses brought in for lesser pay and reduced benefits (result of ham-handed union negotiations). A garbled corporate psycho-babble-speak was introduced and patient care, while touted as first priority, was actually ignored.

Lip service and check-offs were frenzied at JCAHO time, but records falsified outright to avoid penalties, and kissy employees chosen to be on the floor when the inspectors came through so no hint of the truth could pop out. It was unreal!

Ashton & I had a zillion urgent duties nightly that were secondary to patient care, but of course after intense rounds the call lights go neon-blink and patient care must be the priority! We skipped all mealtimes and breaks to jam in other tasks. If we didn't do it, it didn't get done. Then two charge managers couldn't agree on assignment delegation and one decided to get "revenge" by prohibiting us from carrying out necessary tasks in order to cause "pain" to the other manager to force her to, for instance, automate the PYXIS in such a way as to make supply restocking automatic. Except there was no room for more supplies and no staff willing to punch out yet more stuff -- it was an insane plan and everybody knew it. As a result, the Floor immediately ran out of syringes, gloves, isolation kits, lab tubes, dressings, saline, etc etc etc etc and to do our job we had to scurry around begging from other floors. So many stupid bizzare head games -- it affected the patients severely and we quit! There were so many safety violations. Boy we could really get steamed but we're too tired tonight.

Home care is wonderful! We tried Hospital work because all our home care patients would tell these wild stories and we just couldn't believe them and would worry that these rants were indicative of some sort of dementia or disorientation as we did intakes. But all the patients had weird stories, so we decided to scope it out for ourselves. We found out the stories were true! What goes on is unbelievable. Fortunately many of the patients had a sense of humor and made it back home alive. As a result of our Hospital work, we now relate better than ever to our patients, laugh with them, sympathize, and are glad we had the experience. After Y2K things will not be the same in Hospitals. Can't even *imagine* the pandemonium!~

Somebody posted an excellent MD link today; here's an excerpt:

An MD Looks At Post Y2K Medicine

"... Easy access to hi-level, hi-tech modern medical facilities in a serious post-y2k scenario will be non-existent. ... might tide one over until either the medical facilities come back on line, or as I see it, we realize we will have to learn how to make do with alternative medicine for the rest of our lives. ... There is no other way we can come up with the ongoing support we will need to provide in our individual homesteads: we will have to grow our own medicines ... " -- Dr. Bill Schenker

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), April 05, 1999.


Thanks for the link, it's excellent.

Also, Jim was noticing the packaging on most of the equipment he uses to give anesthesia the other day. Items like face masks, endotracheal tubes, breathing circuits etc., made in Taiwan, Mexico, and Singapore. Hospitals are down to the "bare bones" on supplies these days. We cannot imagine how these necessities will arrive in the USA after 2000.

Just another healthcare glitch!!!!

-- Carol (jdufrene@laci.net), April 05, 1999.

I'm just wondering how my vacation plans became public......

-- Mr. Kennedy (hiding@the.present), April 05, 1999.

The Thursday, April 1 edition of the Albany (NY)Times Union had a short article entitled "Y2K Jitters Disrupt Some Vacations." It was from the Associated Press, Buffalo, and stated that "vacations are off-limits for troopers the last week of December and first week of January to ensure sufficient manpower should problems occur. The same goes for state Department of Transportation workers, at least for now.

"It's a kind of precautionary thing. There are so many unknowns, and supervisors in Albany want to make sure everything is OK," Maj. Michael McManus, local commander of State Police operations, told the Buffalo News. The State Police employ more than 4,000 people.

-- Arlene (araynor@concentric.net), April 05, 1999.

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