Ascension nurses petition hospital leaders over staffing

Registered nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph and Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospitals in Wichita, Kan., and Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, are highlighting their concerns related to staffing and patient care in petitions to hospital management.

"Ascension management's refusal to listen to nurses' solutions have horrible consequences for patients," Monica Gonzalez, RN, a registered nurse in the neurology unit at Seton Medical Center, said in a July 25 union news release. "Across all three hospitals, we're seeing new graduates and temporary nurses take on full patient loads, despite having little to no experience or training."

The petitions come about one month after nurses went on strike at the Texas and Kansas hospitals. 

The strike involved members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United. The union represents 900 nurses at Ascension Seton Medical Center, as well as 650 nurses at St. Francis and 300 nurses at St. Joseph Hospital. All three hospitals are part of St. Louis-based Ascension. 

The union and hospitals have been in negotiations for months. The union said it seeks fair contracts that would improve patient care by improving working conditions for its members. 

Ascension shared a statement with Becker's saying it focuses on the recruitment of nurses through its workforce development program and partnerships with nursing schools. It also cited a Leapfrog A or B safety grade for all three hospitals.

"We continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that respects the human dignity and rights of all," the statement says. "We look forward to returning the focus to resolving issues at the bargaining table and reaching agreement on an initial contract for our registered nurses."

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