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Miriam stood her ground for her patients.

“You never forget those times when you know you’ve truly saved a life,” says Registered Nurse Miriam Cortez. “Like the time we had a patient ready for medical transport to a nursing facility. He’d had a head trauma and began vomiting while waiting to be transported. I knew that was a red flag, possibly indicating a sudden change in brain pressure. I immediately assessed his condition and called the doctor, and a brain scan showed that there had been a major shift in the brain. So instead of transporting the young man out of the hospital, he went straight to ICU.”


Read the Press Statement from SEIU 121RN President Gayle Batiste

Read more about what AB 1102 does for nurses and our patients.

Whenever Miriam hears about hospitals pushing their nurses to work out of ratio, she remembers that moment. What if she’d been overloaded? What if attending to the extra patients meant that she’d missed that young man’s symptoms? What if the distraction of too many requests robbed her of critical thinking skills when they were most needed?

“We’re talking life and death here,” says Miriam. “They’ve done studies that show mortality rates really do go up when nurses are out of ratio. I mean think about it: if I’m on a 12-hour shift and you throw just one more patient in the mix, that’s like taking almost half an hour of care or more from each patient. That means they’re forcing you to cut corners and rush. That means not noticing important things.”

It’s that critical assessment time that worries Miriam most—those moments when nurses often catch issues early.

And that’s why, Miriam explains, she stood firm for patient safety one morning when management directed her to take an unlawful six patient assignment.

“I got to the floor at the beginning of my shift,” says Miriam. “And when I was handed my assignments, I saw that I had six patients—in violation of state standards, against the law. I’d been out of ratio before, but that morning, I just saw so clearly the scope and importance of not being out of ratio, how unsafe it is for patients and staff…so I accepted a five patient assignment and told my manager I couldn’t accept a sixth.”

Miriam proceeded to introduce herself to her patients. And that’s when management went into a familiar pattern of intimidation and bullying that is frequently seen on her floor. Her manager and director called her into management’s office.

“They actually asked me, ‘If you’re so concerned about patient care, why don’t you care about this sixth patient?’ It was like they were questioning—even mocking—my concern for patients. I had one patient that day who was dying and another who’d just come out of ICU with complications. I’ve developed good nursing judgment. I knew the level of care that would be required for these patients. I held my ground. I said, ‘I’m sorry. It’s unsafe. I can’t do it.’”

They continued to push and threaten Miriam, questioning again her commitment to patient care and to the unit. Miriam was frustrated that management was bullying her instead of attempting to find a solution to provide for patient and nursing safety. Instead of finding a solution, management suspended Miriam and wrote her up for insubordination. They sent her home without pay. She still has a disciplinary suspension on her record—and Miriam, with her union, is still fighting this. It was the employer who broke the law, not Miriam. This type of retaliation against nurses puts them in fear when they want to advocate for patient safety. It’s an attempt to silence conscientious nurses.

It’s pretty simple. The laws are there for a reason: to protect patients and nurses. That’s why Registered Nurses like Miriam worked with Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) to introduce AB 1102: The Protect Hospital Patient Safety Act.

The Governor agreed with us and signed this legislation into law on September 25, 2017.

 

 

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Nov. 6, we rallied for safe staffing levels—joined by Senators Dr. Ed Hernandez & Connie Leyva, and more!

We sound alarm on SoCal’s hospital staffing crisis:

We’ll told Top CDPH Administrators: Stop turning a blind eye to dangerously unsafe staffing levels!

On Monday, November 6th, we confronted and challenged top decision makers at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to end their slow, inadequate—often nonexistent—responses to our ADOs. (ADOs are the “Assignment Despite Objection” forms that we submit to CDPH to sound the alarm about Southern California hospitals’ illegal and dangerous lack of staffing.)

Those of us on the front line have seen too many unnecessary injuries and even deaths in hospitals across the Southland that are directly attributable to illegally low staffing of nurses, as well as grossly inadequate staffing of support personnel.

Read the Press Release here.

Here’s some background:

We’ve been diligent about blowing the whistle on numerous patient safety violations, sending our ADOs to CDPH. The trouble is, we have not seen the critical corrective measures from CDPH that must happen if we’re ever going to remedy staffing problems. We’ve exhausted our efforts. CDPH Administrators—leaders of the agency tasked with investigating and enforcing the Title 22 laws on minimum staffing ratios—have responded with dismissive comments such as  “what do you want the hospital to do?” or “we’d take action if there was a resulting death.”

A few years ago, state legislators reported that from 2004 to 2012, there were 465 out-of-ratio deficiencies reported to CDPH. And although we know probably thousands more go unreported, that’s a significant number.

You know how many of those 465 actually resulted in penalties?

Two.

CDPH leadership sends a message to area hospitals when it does not levy penalties and require remedy…the message is this: it’s okay to ignore required staffing baselines. And those of us who continue to stand up to hospitals and refuse illegal assignments that endanger patients are often disciplined by our employers—even suspended—in an attempt to silence us. (See Miriam’s story.)

In fact, this apathetic response from CDPH has led to hospitals now feeling so emboldened that they claim Title 22 regulations are just “recommendations” or “guidelines.”

Good grief.

So we went straight to CDPH.

We spoke out loud and clear. We will not back down on this. We held—and will continue to hold—CDPH administrators accountable for ensuring patient safety.

We won’t wait for another patient death.

——-CHECK OUT THE GIANT COMPLAINT FORM WE UNVEILED TODAY——-

ADO-Poster---text-to-curves

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Learn how to enforce new nurse safety laws…and earn CEUs while you’re at it!

FREE CLASS:
Workplace Violence Prevention
in Healthcare

There’s a new law in town.

After we won passage of the Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act—SB 1299 in 2014, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) was charged with developing strong regulations.

Our Union, SEIU Local 121RN, was instrumental in coming up with final language in this bill designed to protect nurses and healthcare professionals from workplace violence.

The OSHSB unanimously adopted these new regulations on October 20, 2016, a landmark day for nurse safety. These workplace violence regulations for California’s healthcare professionals are the strongest in the nation.

Come learn more about these new protections

—and how to enforce them. (For the full-day class, you can earn CEUs at the same time.)

December 7 & 8, 2017
SEIU Local 721
1545 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA

Day 1: Full Day

(6 CEUs provided)

Registration: 0815

Class: 0900-1600

Day 2: Half Day

Registration: 0815

Class: 0845-1300

  • Define workplace violence & typologies, risk factors and controls
  • Employee and their Reps involvement: identifying, evaluating, correcting workplace hazards and developing a plan
  • The new regulation: what it means and how to use it
  • Designing and implementing training.  Comparing current training to standard requirements
  • Review case studies and compare those investigations and outcomes with current regulation
 

  • Identify how the union can develop effective WPV prevention programs at the worksite
  • Strategies to ensure employers comply with the standard
  • How to effectively engage members
  • Union strategies and action steps for enforcement & building a good case for a Cal/OSHA complaint

 

  • Reporting to your supervisor, investigating an incident.  Record keeping participation
  • Putting it all together: developing, implementing and evaluating your worksite plan

SIGN UP!

6 CEUs are provided for full day with breakfast and lunch.

Second day participation is encouraged in order to learn how to build a strong case when filing a Cal/OSHA complaint. Breakfast is provided on the ½ day.

Questions?
Contact Donalda Dunnett, RN, at (626) 639-6163, dunnettd@seiu121rn.org

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Can you be a part of our Rapid Response Disaster Relief Team?

We understand that schedules and responsibilities won’t always allow you to be a part of a particular team.

By filling out this form, you’re telling us “Yes! Contact me whenever you are forming a team. I will check my availability and let you know if I can participate.”

If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to fill out a form to let us know you’re interested in being part of our SEIU Local 121RN Disaster Relief Rapid Response Team.

In 2010, I was part of a group of SEIU Local 121RN nurses who headed to Haiti to provide medical relief after a devastating earthquake. Across the U.S., more than 1,000 SEIU healthcare professionals volunteered to go to Haiti. It was an incredible experience.

I won’t kid you: responding to these disasters isn’t easy. We worked long into the night with limited resources, limited plumbing and limited “creature comforts”—but I can also tell you that it felt amazing to be a part of our team giving care and comfort to those who suffered so much injury, illness and loss.

Recently, we reached out to members who were willing and available to volunteer their assistance after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and other parts of the country. In a short time since then, we’ve learned of numerous additional disasters, both natural and manmade. And while many are feeling overwhelmed, I know that nurses are often the first to think “How can I help?”

Understandably, requests for our medical skills are urgent and time-sensitive. That’s why we will maintain a list of our Registered Nurses who are interested in being a part of an SEIU Local 121RN Disaster Rapid Response Team.

I hope you’ll fill out the form today to be ready with the other nurses of SEIU Local 121RN to respond when we learn of opportunities to help.

In unity,
Gayle Batiste, RN
President, SEIU Local 121RN

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Gov. Brown signed AB 1102

Dear SEIU Local 121RN members:

I have some great news!

If you didn’t already hear on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Governor Brown signed our Whistleblower protection bill, AB 1102!

As our Union President Gayle Batiste said in a press statement Tuesday, “Those of us on the front line of patient care applaud this strong message from the Governor: Californians won’t tolerate a downward spiral of cut corners and diminished patient safety.”

For me, this was very personal. I stood my ground for patient safety earlier this year and I’m still paying a price that no conscientious healthcare professional should ever have to pay. I was disciplined when I refused to put patient safety at risk. I was asked to be dangerously (and illegally) out-of-ratio. On the day in question I had one patient who was dying and another who’d just come out of ICU with complications. I knew the level of care that would be required for these patients, so I held my ground and wouldn’t accept the additional assignment.

I was sent home without pay.

Like I said, that should never happen to any of us. Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez agreed and worked with us to introduce AB 1102. A majority of state legislators from both parties agreed with us, too. And on Tuesday, Governor Brown agreed with us, turning this bill into law.

Read more about the bill here.

Make no mistake, the Registered Nurses and healthcare professionals of SEIU Local 121RN will continue to push for higher standards and nurses like us will challenge hospitals to be real partners with us and all Californians as we work together to strengthen patient care.

What’s next?
Many of you took our survey and let us know what’s most important to you as we stand together to improve things during the 2018 legislative cycle. Stay tuned!

In Unity,
Miriam Cortez
Registered Nurse


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Governor Brown signs AB 1102. This bill had full bipartisan support!

On September 25, Governor Brown signed our legislation, Assembly Bill 1102 into law.

We worked with Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D—Pomona), who introduced the bill. We found that the old fines designed to penalize a hospital for cutting corners on staffing were outdated and simply too low. It was clear that hospital management considered these fines “the cost of doing business.”

These minimal current fines had not been updated in 20 years. Hospitals have been willing to roll the dice and have even disciplined the conscientious nurses (like Miriam) who objected to violations of the law. This is in direct violation of the whistleblower protections afforded to nurses.

The bottom line is: we know that cutting corners and short-staffing puts patients at risk. AB 1102 will increase the fines for a willful violation of these provisions from a current ceiling of $20,000 to up to $75,000. These higher fines—and our continued commitment to blow the whistle when we see illegal short-staffing—will make it much less appealing for profit-minded hospitals cut corners.

Read the full bill language here.

AB 1102 Graphic web

 

 

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Press Statement from SEIU Local 121RN President on new California law bringing stronger whistleblower protections for nurses

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2017
CONTACT: Terry Carter, (805) 312-0024

SEIU Local 121RN President Gayle Batiste, RN, CNOR, released the following statement on the Governor’s signing of AB 1102 (Rodriguez):

“The Registered Nurses of SEIU Local 121RN are grateful that Governor Brown agrees that patient safety is our state’s number one priority. California continues to lead the nation in the protection of patients and Registered Nurses.

Miriam-Cortez-for-webpost

“Those of us on the front line of patient care applaud this strong message from the Governor: Californians won’t tolerate a downward spiral of cut corners and diminished patient safety.

“Registered Nurses of SEIU Local 121RN will continue to push for higher standards and continue to challenge hospitals to be real partners with us and all Californians as we work together to strengthen patient care.”

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Service Employees International Union, Local 121RN represents 8,500 registered nurses and professionals at 23 hospitals 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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CA Leading the Nation in Fixing Healthcare

California - Leading the Nation Flyer

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AB 1102 Passes Assembly Judiciary Committee with Full Bipartisan Support!

Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez with SEIU 121RN Registered Nurses (left to right) Marie Spaner, Jinky Montiel, Miriam Cortez, 121RN President Gayle Batiste, Susie Hinkel, and Kathy Hughes outside the California legislative building where the Judiciary Committee passed AB 1102.

Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez with SEIU 121RN Registered Nurses (left to right) Marie Spaner, Jinky Montiel, Miriam Cortez, 121RN President Gayle Batiste, Susie Hinkel, and Kathy Hughes outside the California legislative building where the Judiciary Committee passed AB 1102.

Our legislation, Assembly Bill 1102, was moved out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee the morning of Tuesday, April 25 with a vote of 10 for and none against — full bipartisan support! Thank you to our bill sponsor, Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez for his leadership, and to all the nurses and others who called members of the Judiciary Committee to encourage their support.

Nurses currently have no direct way to penalize a hospital for cutting corners with staffing. If AB 1102 is passed, higher fines will make it less likely that hospital management will consider these fines “the cost of doing business.”

SEIU 121RN President Gayle Batiste testified at the hearing, saying:

“Since the current fines are minimal and have not been updated in 20 years, hospitals have been willing to roll the dice and have disciplined nurses who have objected to violations of the law. This is in direct violation of the whistleblower protections afforded to nurses.

“AB 1102 would create a greater disincentive to such retaliation by increasing the fines for a willful violation of these provisions from a current ceiling of $20,000 to up to $75,000,” Batiste continued.

AB 1102 will force hospitals to take a closer look at whether staffing correctly or paying higher fines is more cost-effective. Middle managers will no longer consider short-staffing “part of the job” when a personal misdemeanor charge against them is on the line.

 

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