May 28, 2010
UC Medical Centers, plus several Ca. hospitals join forces over crisis of patient safety in state's hospitals
As many as 13,000 registered nurses from hospitals throughout California are issuing a one-day strike notice Friday morning over patient care shortcomings at their facilities, the California Nurses Association announced today.
The key sticking point is safe nurse-to-patient staffing. The hospitals' proposals leave serious patient care issues unaddressed, notably the need for safe staffing at all times, even during nurse meal and rest breaks. Secondarily, the RNs are fighting to protect their retirement, which is a key factor in recruitment and retention of experienced nurses.
In November, a neutral fact-finder chosen by the University of California and CNA made contract recommendations concerning staffing and benefit protections that UC has refused to adhere to. In March, more than 40 state legislators wrote to UC President Mark Yudof encouraging UC to accept the fact-finder's recommendations.
At UC Davis, for example, internal staffing documentation from last year found that one-third of the shifts were short one or more RNs in each unit than what was required by the individual patient acuities on those shifts.
Nurses are seeking to strengthen enforcement of the state's legally mandated staffing ratios and guard against politicians and the hospital industry who seek to roll back patient safeguards including the ratios as well as guarantees that nurses - who typically work 12-hour days - receive rest and meal breaks during their shifts.
"We are often short staffed and there is no break relief coverage," said Shirley Toy, an RN and member of the bargaining team at UC Davis. "We need break relief RNs on every shift on every unit. Our patients deserve uninterrupted patient care when RNs are on break or lunch."
"Nurses give everything we have to our patients," said Valerie Verity-Mock, an RN at Citrus Valley Medical Center, and a bargaining team member. "We have worked very hard to build a secure future and deserve to retire with dignity."
The RNs come from five University of California Medical Centers-San Diego, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento -as well as four other facilities: Citrus Valley Medical Center (Covina), San Pedro Hospital (San Pedro), Marina del Rey Medical Center (Los Angeles) and Olympia Medical Center (Los Angeles).