Hawaii hospital nurses plan 7-day strike

Members of the Hawaii Nurses Association are set to begin a seven-day strike Jan. 21 at Honolulu-based Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

The union represents about 600 at Kapiolani, according to the Star Advertiser. Kapiolani is part of Hawaii Pacific Health.

Union members voted to authorize a strike on Jan. 5, according to the Star Advertiser. The union and hospital began negotiating a new labor contract in mid-September. Gidget Ruscetta, BSN, COO of Kapiolani, told Becker's that during negotiations, 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."

The union, which, according to the Star Advertiser, seeks to establish nurse-patient ratios, 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. 

"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. "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."

"Throughout the negotiations, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children has addressed the priorities presented on behalf of our nurses with the intent of moving forward together," Ms. Ruscetta said. "Despite the union's decision to strike and refusal several times to negotiate with a federal mediator, we want to reassure the community that we will continue to serve our patients and their families. Kapiolani will be here to serve our community, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will never waver from that responsibility."

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