Press Release: Hospital retaliates against Nurses who held a 10-day strike for safe staffing

For Immediate Release:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

CONTACT:
Terry Carter, (805) 312-0024

Hospital retaliates against Nurses who held a 10-day strike for safe staffing.

Riverside Community Hospital plans to throw away 842 years of nursing experience.

Riverside, CA–Registered Nurses who serve as Charge Nurses in their units at Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) learned soon after their strike that the hospital decided to eliminate their position. This is retaliation for the leadership role these 57 Nurses played in their brave advocacy for safe staffing in the hospital and for blowing the whistle on unsafe staffing concerns.

In a show of commitment to their patients and colleagues, the Nurses gathered the letters that the hospital sent out announcing that their position would be eliminated. They wrote their years of service on the letters and gathered them in a binder, which they delivered to hospital President and CEO Jackie DeSouza-Van Blaricum today. The binder included a cover letter urging her to negotiate over the decision to eliminate their roles.

The letter reads:

Dear Jackie:

We went on strike last month for one reason: to end the unsafe staffing practices at this hospital.

It’s simple, really. Safe staffing saves lives.

In case you missed it, an investigative reporter at the New York Times recently showed that unsafe staffing levels in NYC during their surge were directly tied to dramatically higher mortality rates.

Patients at understaffed hospitals were three times more likely to die. Check it out: https://bit.ly/hosp-staffing

But instead of listening to your frontline Nurses, you dug your heels in. You backed out of an agreement that had led to safer staffing levels. It worked for more than a year. Things were getting better.

And you backed out of that agreement when HCA knew it was in great financial shape and could easily afford to at least staff up to the bare bones Title 22 nurse-to-patient ratio requirements. In fact, HCA’s CEO said that the corporation’s profits in the 2nd quarter this year led to “possibly the most remarkable” quarter he’s experienced in his 37 years with HCA.

You left us with no alternative but to strike for safe staffing for our patients. This hospital has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection among staff. Two of your employees have died.

When we returned to work after our strike, you wasted no time. You immediately retaliated against us by announcing your plans to eliminate our positions. Your plan to replace us with non-Union supervisors who will not provide direct patient care, assist Nurses with invasive bedside procedures, respond to codes and assist rapid response teams at the bedside will only make the staffing crisis worse for patients. Fewer nurses helping other nurses will delay patient care and lead to an increase in patient injuries and possibly even deaths.

As we’re sure you know, you’re throwing away 842 years of service to this hospital and this community. You’re throwing away 57 Nurses who this hospital identifies as leaders, with the experience and skills required to be in a Charge Nurse position. One of us has worked here for 48 years.

We ask that instead of throwing away all this dedication to our patients and to our units, you instead meet us at the bargaining table to figure out how we can return to the path we were on…a path that was improving things at this hospital.

Sincerely,
The Charge Nurses of SEIU Local 121RN

Nurses also launched a change.org petition today, urging the California Attorney General’s office to investigate and put an end to retaliation against Nurse whistleblowers.

All Nurses at the hospital will continue their ongoing efforts to advocate for safe staffing and adequate PPE that they need to keep their patients and themselves safe.

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SEIU Local 121RN represents registered nurses and other healthcare professionals in California. 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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