Medical staff urges California nurses not to strike

Medical staff at HCA Healthcare's Riverside (Calif.) Community Hospital are calling on nurses at their facility not to strike. 

While they respect nurses' right to strike, it is not in the best interest of patients, the medical staff said in an unsigned memo to nursing staff, which was shared with Becker's Hospital Review Dec. 16. 

"This stoppage in workforce comes at a very crucial time during our COVID surge," the memo states. "We are at an all-time critical point, and as patient advocates, our patients and community are in serious need of our teaming together. We, the medical staff, want to urge you to reconsider the timing of your strike and the impact at this critical time in patient care."

Registered nurses and licensed medical professionals at Riverside, Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, and West Hills Hospital and Medical Center in Los Angeles, plan to strike from Christmas Eve through Jan. 3. The workers are members of SEIU Local 121RN, which represents about 2,500 RNs and licensed medical professionals at the three hospitals owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare. 

A strike can be averted if an agreement is reached during current talks, but as of the morning of Dec. 16, there was no change in the plan to strike, union spokesperson Terry Carter told Becker's via email.

"Both sides, of course, hope to reach agreement," she said.

Staffing and safety are key sticking points in negotiations. The union contends staff have been raising serious concerns about these issues, including nurses' workloads, since before the pandemic, with strong support from physicians. The issues have gotten worse during the pandemic, but HCA Healthcare has not remedied them, the union claims.

Hospital management says it has bargained in good faith and disputed claims that it has not prioritized the safety of workers. The hospital management said it has offered nurse bonuses and is working to recruit more nurses. 




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