Hawaii hospital nurses launch 7-day strike: 7 things to know

Nurses began a seven-day strike Jan. 21 at Honolulu-based Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, according to a Jan. 22 report from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Seven things to know about the strike and negotiations:

1. The Hawaii Nurses Association, which represents about 600 nurses at Kapiolani, organized the strike, according to the Star-Advertiser. It is slated to last through 6:59 a.m. Jan. 28. 

2. Meanwhile, temporary nurses are now working with care teams at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children during the strike, Gidget Ruscetta, BSN, the hospital's COO, said in a statement shared with Becker's

"Our entire medical center is operating as usual from our emergency department to our operating rooms."

3. The strike follows months of negotiations, which began in mid-September, with staffing as a key point of contention. 

4. Ms. Ruscetta previously told Becker's that the hospital has proposed staffing guidelines "that allow us to adjust to the needs of our patients. We consistently evaluate how many patients we have and how sick they are. These guidelines give us the flexibility to bring in more nurses, when needed. In addition, our proposal also gives our nurses a more active role in staffing assignments and enforcement."

5. The union, which, according to the Star-Advertiser, wants nurse-patient ratios codified in the contract, contends working conditions are worsening and that short staffing is forcing nurses to care for too many, too sick patients. It also contends nurses are being mandated to work overtime, sometimes clocking 16-hour shifts. 

6. "This fight is about being able to take care of patients well, and give them the time and attention they need to heal," the Hawaii Nurses Association wrote on its Facebook page on Jan. 10. "It's about leaving work feeling like you can still go back the next day. It's about dignity, for nurses and patients — for our whole community. It's time for a change in our healthcare system."

7. "We value our nurses and all of our care teams," Ms. Ruscetta said. "We hope to reach an agreement." Bargaining sessions are scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, according to the Star-Advertiser.

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