Nurses escorted out of Ascension hospital

Several nurses who have raised concerns about staffing in the facility's emergency department were escorted out of Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet (Ill.) on Oct. 21, according to hospital and union statements shared with Becker's.

The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents the workers, contends in an Oct. 22 news release that nurses were escorted out of the hospital because of their staffing concerns. The hospital disputes the union's claims and said nurses were escorted out because they refused to work their shift. 

"Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet is committed to having appropriate levels of staffing to care for patients in our community," the hospital's statement reads. "While the hospital is dealing with nursing shortage issues that all hospitals are currently facing, the Illinois Nurses Association has decided to promote and encourage nurses at the hospital to not work their scheduled shifts." 

According to the union, four nurses were available to treat 46 patients at the time, despite hospital guidelines that recommend the unit be staffed with 10 nurses.

Union representatives said nurses notified hospital management of the issue and urged that the hospital go on bypass. 

Hospital management did not address the nurses' pleas, and security personnel escorted the nurses out of the hospital, the Illinois Nurses Association news release reads. On Oct. 21, nurses also reported threats of retaliation and termination, according to the union.

The Illinois Nurses Association said nurses in the hospital's intensive care unit experienced a similar staffing situation Oct. 17..

"Instead of working with the nurses to help make sure the patient population was adequately cared for, on-site management seems to have decided on an approach to exacerbate, rather than resolve, the problem," Julia Bartmes, Illinois Nurses Association executive director, said in correspondence to the hospital, according to the union news release.

The hospital's statement says the union's actions "are regrettable and violate the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with the hospital. More importantly, such actions forget the basic reason we are in this community — to serve and care for patients. The hospital has requested the Illinois Nurses Association to stop these illegal work stoppages and has further requested a meeting so that we can, together, deliver on our mission to provide compassionate and quality care."

Nurses and the hospital reached a three-year contract in 2020. The agreement followed a strike that took place amid nurses' staffing concerns.

This story was updated on Oct. 25.



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