Jamille Cabacungan’s shift as charge nurse in UCSF’s medical-surgical unit began with bad news: Just seven of her nine nurses showed up. When a patient’s oxygen fell dangerously low, Cabacungan dropped her paperwork to stabilize the person. When two patients needed security monitoring but no safety attendants were available, she borrowed two nursing assistants and left just one to help 31 patients with toileting, meals and hygiene. When she begged bed-control not to send in another patient, she was refused because the ER was backed up.
That’s when, on a chilly day in February, Cabacungan broke down in tears.