HCA nurses launch 10-day strike at California hospital

Citing staffing and safety concerns, registered nurses plan to strike for 10 days beginning June 26 at Riverside (Calif.) Community Hospital, according to the union that represents them.

SEIU Local 121RN, which represents 1,236 RNs at the hospital, said nurses issued the strike notice June 15 over patient and nurse safety issues. The union contends the hospital is not taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic and is putting nurses' and patients' lives at risk due to staffing levels and lack of personal protective equipment.

"It's for safe staffing," Kathy Montanino, a registered nurse at the hospital and a member of the executive board for the union, told The Press-Enterprise. "Ensuring our patients get the proper care is our only goal. This has nothing to do with our pay."

Riverside Community Hospital is part of HCA Healthcare, a Nashville, Tenn.-based for-profit hospital operator. Nurses at the hospital said they plan to strike from June 26 through July 6. Contract negotiations begin July 7.

Hospital spokesperson Antonio Castelan told The Press-Enterprise at least 400 nurses from other hospitals will arrive at Riverside Community Hospital June 26 to help ensure the walkout doesn't affect patient care.

In 2019, before the pandemic, the union and hospital reached an agreement that limited the number of patients one nurse could care for at a given time, the newspaper reports. 

SEIU Local 121RN said the hospital recently ended the staffing agreement reached last year, which has led to fewer nurses taking care of more patients. The initial agreement was reached in May 2019 and had been extended to May 31 of this year. 

In a statement provided to Becker's Hospital Review, Jackie D. Van Blaricum, CEO of Riverside Community Hospital, said the hospital declined to extend the contract after it expired last month.

"At this time, we believe we are independently making significant progress around the topic of staffing at Riverside Community Hospital and believe that we can support our employees on our own without the influence of an outdated agreement," said Ms. Blaricum.

Regarding PPE, she added: "HCA Healthcare has been doing everything in our power to protect our colleagues and patient care teams throughout the pandemic and equip them to provide safe, effective care to our patients by following or exceeding CDC protocols."

Read the full report here.


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