California Hospital Association strikes back at union nurse strike

Following the patient death linked to a 23,000-nurse strike at California hospitals, the California Hospital Association (CHA) said that the nurses' union is "inappropriate in exploiting [the] patient tragedy to further union agenda," according to a CHA press release.

Officials said that a patient at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland died from a medication error, administered by a replacement nurse. With thousands of nurses walking off the job from 33 area hospitals, operated by Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Children's Hospital Oakland, the patient death has drawn a media storm surrounding the medical error. The report has the public wondering if the death could have been avoided if the nurses stayed on duty or if Sutter Health did not lock them out from returning.

Following the patient's death, the California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses United (NNU) held a vigil on Sunday night at Summit Hospital, while calling an immediate end to Sutter's lockout, according to a National Nurses United press release.

"An incident like this is chilling and strikes right to our nurses' concern about their ability to advocate for their patients," said CNA/NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro. "It was irresponsible to lock out those nurses."

CNA/NNU also asked that the California Department of Public Health and the California Board of Registered Nursing investigate the conditions of the lockout and the clinical competencies and certifications of the replacement registered nurses, respectively.

CHA responded in its own press release, calling on the nurses union to put patients first. CHA blasted the union's attempts to question the qualifications of the replacement nurses. "When the nurses union calls a strike, hospitals cannot simply send their patients home and close the doors. ... The nurses union knows that hospitals must hire these temporary workers when they make permanent nurses walk picket lines. If the union believes the use of licensed replacement nurses is a threat to public safety, then why have they chosen to pursue a pattern of waging strikes on a routine basis?"

CHA also said that full-time nurses in Northern California often earn up to $150,000 per year, according to its press release.

For more information:
- read the California Hospital Association press release about the union
- read the National Nurses United press release about the lockout and patient death
- read the Sutter Health press release about the patient death

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