Press Release: St. Joe’s RNs hold picket and strike vote

For Immediate Release:
December 20, 2018

CONTACT: Terry Carter
(805) 312-0024

Culture of unsafe staffing brings hundreds of Nurses, elected leaders and community members to protest outside Burbank Hospital

 RNs also organize a vote to authorize a strike.

BURBANK–Hundreds of Burbank Nurses and their supporters carried picket signs and rallied outside of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center today to call on hospital management to end its unsafe staffing practices.

Nurses say the hospital dangerously cuts corners, often forcing nurses to be shifted outside of their unit of expertise and experience to cover departments where they aren’t familiar or sufficiently trained.

“The hospital has made it a practice to move RNs into other understaffed units where they’re not adequately trained,” said Gity Khazan, an RN in the Neuro-Stroke/Cardiac unit. “This means that the visiting RN will only be able to take the less critical patients, requiring the rest of us to be overburdened with all the patients who require the most advanced care. It’s simply not safe.”

Further, RNs charge that management openly partners two nurses on each shift to cover for each other during breaks and lunches, which means doubling up on the number of patients they’re trying to care for. Again, this is a dangerous practice that cynically ignores California’s nurse-to-patient ratio regulations.

“I’m here today to speak out for the kind of bedside care I want to have time for…that made me love nursing. As it is, with the unsafe staffing levels, our patients are suffering,” said Mario Cardenas, an Ortho Vascular Nurse. “For instance, we have patients who need toileting assistance. When we’re unable to get to them in time, some will try to make it to the restroom on their own. As you can imagine, we have a lot of patient falls.”

The nearly 900 registered nurses in the hospital are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 121RN and are currently in negotiations with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, where they have heavily prioritized improvements to staffing and patient safety.

Recently, two hospitals owned by the Providence Health system— the Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro and St. John’s Santa Monica—did a one-day strike to highlight similar safety issues, including rampant transfer of RNs to cover understaffed units outside of their scope of expertise.

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 Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents nearly 9,000 registered nurses and other healthcare professionals at 27 hospitals and facilities in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. This member-led organization is committed to supporting optimum working conditions that allow nurses to provide quality patient care and safety.

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