HCA's Mission Hospital must address 'chronic understaffing,' nurses say

Members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee plan to hold a rally Aug. 25 at Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare's Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., to protest what they say is the hospital's failure to address chronic short staffing that jeopardizes patient safety.

The union, an affiliate of National Nurses United, represents about 1,400 nurses at Mission Hospital. Mission Hospital is the flagship facility of Mission Health, which has about 12,000 employees total. 

Union members are demanding that hospital management immediately do more to recruit and retain staff nurses. They contend the hospital is short hundreds of nurses across the organization, including in the cardiovascular intensive care and behavioral health units, as well as the emergency department.

"Mission Hospital has reached a grim milestone — we are short more than 400 nurses hospitalwide," Hannah Drummond, RN, a nurse in the emergency department, said in an Aug. 23 news release. "It seems the only retention HCA cares about is shareholder retention. Instead of paying dividends to shareholders, HCA should focus their resources on putting patients first."

Nancy Lindell, a Mission Health spokesperson, countered the union's remarks.

"Mission Health has more employed nurses now than January 2022, not including the travelers contracted to support the Mission care team, and we continue to heavily recruit and offer significant sign on bonuses," she told Becker's. "As usual, this labor union is focused on gaining publicity by spreading misinformation and attacking hospitals rather than acknowledging the many significant efforts we have underway to continue to attract and retain great nurses during a time when hospitals across the country are having to respond to the shortage of trained healthcare providers."

Those efforts include sign-on bonuses, academic partnerships and a "pay to learn" certified nursing assistant program, among other initiatives, Ms. Lindell said. 

Nurses at Mission Hospital also held a rally in April. 

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