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Apple Valley Nurses Hold Vigil to Address Staffing Concerns

Daily Press, 3/15/13

St. Joseph Health, St. Mary nurses hold up their candles during a candle light vigil on the corner of Highway 18 and Kasota Road in Apple Valley on Wednesday evening to call for improved nurse staffing throughout the St. Joseph Health System.

APPLE VALLEY-Nurses held a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, calling for improved nurse staffing throughout the St. Joseph Health System.

Leslie Curtis, a California Nurses Association representative for Apple Valley, said about 150 people gathered at St. Mary Medical Center to discuss staffing concerns with the community.

Leslie Curtis, a California Nurses Association representative for Apple Valley, said about 150 people gathered at St. Mary Medical Center to discuss staffing concerns with the community.

“The nurses responded with the biggest action they ever had,” said Curtis. “They all talked about changes in staffing and how they felt conditions need to be improved.”

Registered nurses working for the St. Joseph Health System also participated in candlelight vigils outside hospitals in Eureka, Petaluma and Santa Rosa. The nurses called for improved staffing to protect patients and fair collective bargaining agreements covering more than 2,000 RNs at the four hospitals.

A St. Joseph Health, St. Mary news release from the hospital noted that the event was not a strike and there was no interruption to healthcare services or the quality of care for patients.

“The hospital respects the rights of its nurses to conduct informational picketing,” the statement read, explaining that St. Mary leaders have been working for several months to negotiate a new contract with our nurses.

Randy Bevilacqua, spokesman for the hospital, said the candlelight vigil was consistent with the hospital’s values and principles.

“We respect their right to hold a vigil, and I appreciate them being polite and respectful,” Bevilacqua said.

Describing the vigil as a type of community gathering, Curtis said that people brought their families and kids to what was considered a peaceful event.

“They basically came and told their stories and created hope for future changes,” Curtis said, noting that the registered nurses are committed to reaching an agreement with the employer to resolve these staffing issues.

A CNA news release stated that hospital managers at each facility have taken a hard line in opposition to proposals made by RNs that the nurses say would significantly improve patient safety.

Nurses have proposed placing the state-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in the collective bargaining agreement for contract protection, while providing additional resources for patient care support staff.

“In this age of record health system profits, especially by so-called ‘not-for-profit’ institutions, it’s not just the nurses feeling the squeeze, it’s our kids, moms, dads and family who have to deal with inadequate staffing for the simple reason of increasing productivity,” said St. Mary RN Lewis Tant in a CNA statement.

Jim E. Winburn can be reached at jwinburn@vvdailypress.com or at 760-955-5368.


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