Children's Minnesota nurses to picket June 8 over staffing

Nurses plan to conduct an informational picket June 8 outside Children's Minnesota's Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses over their concerns about staffing and patient care, according to the union that represents them.

The Minnesota Nurses Association cited inadequate staffing and not enough pediatric beds to admit patients amid the health system's organizational redesign efforts.

"Children's is taking away services from the sickest kids served in the St. Paul hospital while placing more of a burden on the already strapped resources of the Minneapolis campus," Tricia Ryshkus, RN, said in a June 3 news release. "And now what's happening is kids are waiting for care and it's increasing health inequities for all of these kids."

Last October, Children's Minnesota released details of its plan to move complex services from its St. Paul campus to its Minneapolis one. The plan calls for moving the majority of neurosurgerical services and inpatient care for Type 1 diabetics to the Minneapolis facility, although there will still be a presence in the St. Paul facility for these services.

The health system also announced last October that it would lay off 150 employees for reasons including financial damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to increase operational efficiencies and the need to support its organizational redesign plan.

Children's Minnesota told Becker's the redesign efforts are aimed at consolidating related services under the same facility and investing in much-needed services for the community. During the redesign, the health system said it is investing in expanding mental health services, as well as shifting some services between its two hospitals.

"Our efforts will ensure that the St. Paul campus continues to thrive and serve the needs of our community as a pediatric hospital, offering emergency care, inpatient and outpatient services, surgical services and high-level neonatal expertise," said Children's Minnesota. Additionally, "children’s hospitals across the country are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis, which is resulting in higher wait times in emergency departments. Part of the impetus for our redesign efforts is to allow us to respond to the growing needs of the community, first and foremost our mental health patients."

The health system said it will continue to adjust staffing as appropriate.

Picketing scheduled for June 8 is not a strike. Union members will picket on their off-hours.

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