Nurses at HCA hospital in North Carolina rally for safe patient staffing

Registered nurses at Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare's Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., held a speak-out April 21 over concerns about staffing and patient care, according to ABC affiliate WLOS.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United that represents 1,400 nurses at Mission Hospital, said in a news release that its members want to ensure safe patient staffing in all hospital units.

"We have an obligation to our patients to provide the highest quality of care possible, and we can only do that when we have enough nurses and professional staff on every unit and on every shift," Hannah Drummond, a registered nurse at Mission Hospital, said in a news release. "Right now, our nurses are being forced to care for too many sick patients at one time, without adequate support staff. This lack of staff means that patients are forced to wait to get care, to get pain medications, or to get help walking to the restroom. These delays can lead to infections, bed sores, falls and other negative outcomes. This is not fair to our patients."

The union also alleges that poor working conditions are creating recruitment and retention issues at Mission Hospital and that hospital management is forcing nurses to work in different units without the appropriate training for that unit.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Mission Hospital acknowledged that staffing shortages have been a problem for U.S. hospitals, and said it is "working diligently to ensure nursing and other Mission Hospital roles are filled as quickly as possible with both traditional and creative solutions, including new training programs, increased affiliations with nursing schools, welcoming international nurses and robust sign-on bonuses."

Regarding nurses floating between units, the hospital said: "During collective bargaining, the union agreed that RNs could float throughout the hospital as long as the RN was qualified to provide the care needed in that department. In addition, all parties agreed upon a process for reviewing alleged violations of the contract. Despite the union's endless allegations, there has not been any finding that Mission Hospital has violated this contract in any way, including how we assign RNs to provide safe, appropriate patient care."

The union and hospital are not currently in contract negotiations.

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