Amita Health nurses file staffing complaints months after strike

Nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet (Ill.) have submitted more than 100 complaints since late July, when they approved a new contract after a 16-day strike, according to the union that represents them.

The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents 720 nurses at the hospital, said its members submitted complaints known as "assignment despite objection" forms, which allege unsafe working conditions and inadequate staffing that are deemed a threat to patient safety.

"While a majority of nurses voted for the new contract, there are still many nurses who want to see more progress on safe staffing. We will continue the fight for safe staffing through enforcement of our contract and in Springfield," Pat Meade, RN, said after the contract was ratified in July, according to a news release.

The union said hospital management acknowledges the submission of complaints but often vetoes recommendations from nursing staff to improve the staffing.

Ms. Meade said in a news release that complaints filed by nurses focus on a shortage of nurses or nursing assistants or aides.

"When an aide or assistant is not on duty or staffed to a unit, those duties are usually performed by a nurse, which detracts from direct patient care," she said.

Nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet had worked without a contract since May 9 and went on strike July 4. They approved a new agreement July 20.

But the union said many nurses remain concerned that hospital management is failing to provide safe staffing.

The hospital, in response to nurses' complaints, told Becker's, "The health and safety of our patients are our top priorities at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet. We continually review and address opportunities to maintain a high-quality, safe environment of care for our patients, associates and physicians."


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