Nurses claim staffing crisis at 2 California hospitals

Unionized healthcare workers and nurses from Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna, Calif., and St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka (Calif.), are speaking out against what they deem a staffing crisis at the facilities.

The nurses and healthcare workers are members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association. They urge adequate staffing in critical departments immediately and protested Sept. 10 outside St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka, to demand that both hospitals do just that, according to a union news release.

"For months, those of us who work closely with patients have informed hospital management that certain gaps in staffing are causing dangerous situations for our patients," said Allen McCloskey, union steward with NUHW and lab technician at St. Joseph. "At least two patient deaths are being investigated because the hospital used bed alarms instead of hands-on care. We are offering concrete proposals that the hospital can implement to remedy this crisis, and they have ignored us."

Roberta Luskin-Hawk, MD, chief executive of St. Joseph Health-Humboldt County, of which both hospitals are a part, called unions' claims "misleading."

"Since my arrival [in February], the leadership team and I have been focused on ways we can enhance the care of our patients and support our caregivers in this work," she told Becker's.

"Indeed, our hospital recently underwent a site visit and review by the California Department of Public Health, which found we are in full compliance regarding staffing. And under no circumstance has a patient death occurred in our facility due to the use of bed alarms."

Ms. Luskin-Hawk said her St. Joseph Health is "challenging the way we have done things and seeking opportunities to make the work we do easier and more aligned."

She invited the unions to consider certain change and continue discussions with hospital administration.



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