Press Release

Antelope Valley RNs Set Candlelight Vigil to Protest Serious Patient Care Problems at Hospital

See pictures from the gathering.

Registered nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital (AVH) in Lancaster, California will hold a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening to protest eroding patient care conditions at the hospital and the administration’s hard-line stance in talks for a new contract. Some 900 RNs at the facility are represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

RNs cite deteriorating care conditions, especially in safe staffing, at the hospital that they say are consistently putting patients at risk on a daily basis.

What:     Candlelight Vigil
When:    Wednesday, September 5, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where:   Antelope Valley Hospital
               1600 W. Avenue J, Lancaster, CA

In April, a report by the California Department of Public Health found AVH to be repeatedly out of compliance with the state’s safe staffing law throughout the hospital, including in the emergency department, post-partum unit for mothers and newborns, telemetry where patients are on monitors, and mental health/psychiatric care. In at least one case, the state cited the telemetry unit was inadequately staffed under state law on a day a patient fall occurred.

“Patient safety is too often compromised at our hospital. In labor and delivery often we don't have enough staff to make sure our patients are being monitored the way they should,” says AVH RN Jessie Thompson. “With each patient we have, there are two lives at stake. We can't allow this environment to continue. What is it going to take before management understands the need to make a change?”

Meanwhile AVH administrators are demanding increased reductions in workplace and nurses’ economic standards, such as big increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for their own health coverage – despite the fact that AVH has made over $31.2 million in profits the last four years, according to data it reports to the state.

One consequence of the ongoing problems at the hospital is a disturbing loss of experienced nurses. In the past few years, hundreds of RNs have left for other facilities, a real blow for the community, nurses say.

In addition to failing to adhere to the state law on minimum nurse-to-patient ratios, AVH frequently fails to provide meal-and-rest-break staffing so nurses can safely take needed breaks, another problem noted in the state investigation last April.

“AVH makes inadequate effort to provide break and meal relief for our nurses,” said Thompson. “The nurses have the most important job, with the least amount of say. Nurses are quitting, and taking jobs where they are commuting in order to avoid working under such unsafe conditions!”

“AVH is not hiring more registered nurses to replace them,” says AVH RN Ann Gormont. “AVH hospital is a teaching hospital; there are plenty of registered nurses in our community who would love to work at AVH, close to home and family.  Instead the management hires traveling nurses, which is more costly.”

“We need more staff to assist with high-acuity (severely ill) patients,” adds AVH RN Maria Altamirano. She says staffing problems are also aggravated by not enough charge nurses who make clinical assignments and can “help out staff as a resource,” as well as inadequate help with lifting or moving patients, which leads to patient falls, accidents, and injuries to staff as well.