U of Chicago nurses to picket Monday over patient safety concerns

Nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center will be holding an informational picket and rally July 22, according to a July 18 announcement from National Nurses United Organizing Committee/National Nurses United.

The nurses are concerned about what they claim are staffing and equipment shortages and inadequate security protocols. They say they have filled out over 1,500 reports on staffing shortage concerns since January 2017. 

The nurses are also concerned about workplace violence. A survey revealed 67 percent of the nurses reported being threatened by a patient or visitor, 32 percent reported being kicked at 28 percent said they were hit or had an object thrown at them.

UCMC officials denied understaffing is an issue at the hospital. "Staffing on our units continues to average well ahead of the fixed ratios that [the union] advocates," UCMC said in a statement, adding that nurses' average hourly rate is "over $47 per hour. This is $11 more per hour than the average pay rate that their peers get at acute-care hospitals in the Chicago area."

"The University of Chicago Medical Center remains committed to constructive dialogue and good-faith negotiations to reach a fair and equitable labor agreement," UCMC said.

Nurses filed complaints with the Illinois Department of Health in June, charging UCMC with failing to provide adequate staffing levels. They also filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, claiming the hospital is not keeping appropriate records on injuries at the hospital. Investigations are underway for both charges.

Editor's note: This story was updated July 22 at 12:00p.m. with additional information.

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