Nationwide union events urge hospitals to put patients over profits

Thousands of registered nurses and other healthcare workers plan to hold events Jan. 27 in more than 19 states and the District of Columbia to urge their employers to put patients first in medical care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the union that represents them. 

The workers, who are members of National Nurses United, contend employers should keep patients as a priority in how care is delivered, rather than finances. 

"The hospital industry's response to COVID has demonstrated to nurses and patients that they may attempt to implement their long-desired goal of restructuring the industry to prioritize profits — a direction that nurses and healthcare workers warn is bad for patient and worker safety," the union said in their statement. "The actions on Jan. 27 are a kickoff to a campaign that puts the industry on notice that such moves will be fought by the people who provide care to patients."

The events also come as National Nurses United will negotiate contracts this year on behalf of tens of thousands of workers at facilities affiliated with Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare; San Francisco-based Dignity Health, which is owned by Chicago-based CommonSpirit; and Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health.

According to the union, negotiations will focus on improving health and safety and infectious diseases provisions surrounding personal protective equipment, staffing, testing, contact-tracing, sick leave and other measures.

Meanwhile, actions are planned Jan. 27 at facilities in  California, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, Nevada, New York, North Carolina and Texas, among others. 

Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee, Fla., one of the HCA Healthcare facilities where actions are scheduled, defended its pandemic response and said the union "continues to use COVID-19 in an attempt to discredit and undermine the extensive work, planning and training that our hospital and its dedicated team have done to ensure the delivery of high-quality care during this pandemic." 

"Our front-line caregivers have shown unwavering commitment throughout the pandemic, and our efforts to protect them include universal masking, implemented before the CDC's guidance, requiring all staff in all areas to wear masks," the hospital said. "We also continue to protect our front-line colleagues through screening and testing, contact-tracing and notification, and the assignment of a PPE steward at each hospital who rounds regularly and helps ensure the proper use and fitting of protective equipment. Throughout the pandemic, we have supported our care teams through the use of our in-house nurse staffing agency and by continuing to actively recruit additional nurses."

Osceola Regional Medical Center continues to focus on protecting employees and caring for the community, the hospital said. 

Details about the planned actions are available here

Editor's note: Becker's reached out to Dignity Health and Sutter Health for a response. The article will be updated if responses are received. 


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