Alvarado nurses to hold candlelight vigil
San Diego Union Tribune, 6/1/11
By Janet Lavelle
1:02 p.m., June 1, 2011
Registered nurses at Alvarado Hospital plan to hold a candlelight vigil from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, as the hospital and nurses’ union enter their fourth month of contract negotiations.
The contract between Alvarado and the California Nurses Assocation/National Nurses United expired Feb. 28 and has been extended while a new agreement is worked out. The union, which represents 350 nurses at Alvarado, plans to hold the vigil outside the hospital.
The union says it is resisting proposed changes in healthcare coverage and lower pay for new hires at the hospital, located near San Diego State University.
It also wants Alvarado to create a panel to enforce nurse-patient staffing ratios, set policies ensuring nurses aren’t required to do work outside their competencies, establish a lift team to reduce nurse back injuries, and provide a rest period between shifts for nurses working back-to-back shifts.
Prime Healthcare Services, which owns 14 California hospitals, bought Alvarado in November as its owners struggled to keep it afloat. In January, Prime said it would spend $25 million on physical improvements and also issued notices of possible layoff to 249 employees, about a quarter of the staff.
Prime officials have said fewer than that number ultimately were let go. Union representatives said this week that 45 registered nurses were among those who lost their jobs.
Hospital officials did not directly comment on the negotiations, but released a statement from its top nursing administrator.
“We know firsthand that the nurses of Alvarado Hospital are especially dedicated to their patients,” Chief Nursing Officer Peggy Bailey said in the statement. “I personally thank them each and every day for their hard work, devotion, and love they bring in doing their jobs. We know from experience that our patients appreciate the compassionate and efficient care we provide them, which continues to be our top priority.”