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Nurses union tells supervisors it has no confidence in management

Ventura County Star, 8/6/13

By Tony Biasotti

The nurses union at Ventura County’s public hospitals presented a letter of no confidence in management to the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The nurses are in contract talks with county management. Eight of them spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting, complaining of insufficient staffing, low pay and indifferent management. An additional 40 or so people, including nurses and their families, sat in the audience in support.

Tina Grieger, the nurses union representative, said the union took a vote last week of nurses at Ventura County Medical Center and other county Health Care Agency facilities.

Of the nurses who participated, 6 percent said they have “confidence and trust” in the county’s leadership and think the actions of management are “vested in quality patient care.” One percent said county executives have “exhibited good leadership during the past year,” and 99 percent said they think “a crisis of leadership” exists in the county and its Health Care Agency.

The nurses’ chief complaint is staffing. They told the supervisors that too few nurses are on duty at Ventura County Medical Center and Santa Paula Hospital, leaving them with heavy patient loads and without the time or energy to give patients the best care. Because state law sets minimum staffing ratios, when there are too few nurses, the ones who are there have to work shifts of 12 hours or longer, Grieger said.

“Nurses are working too many shifts,” she said. “They’re burned out, leaving patients at risk because of nurse fatigue.”

Grieger said the nurses’ pay is also less than that of their counterparts in other hospitals.

“The pay is not competitive,” she said. “We’re asking the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing because our patients’ lives in the county depend on it,” Grieger said.

The supervisors did not reply to the nurses’ comments. It is not customary for them to respond to speakers during the board’s public comment period.

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