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Bluefield RNs to Hold Bake Sale Saturday for Patient Care Equipment Hospital Refuses to Supply

National Nurses Organizing Committee / CNA Press Release, 3/7/14

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Shocking Shortage of Blood Pressure Cuffs, Thermometers and Vital Sign Monitors

Registered nurses from Bluefield Regional Medical Center, in Bluefield, WV say they have had enough with a chronic shortage of essential medical equipment needed to properly care for patients and will hold a bake sale Saturday to help the multi-billion owner of Bluefield provide the equipment patients need.

The RNs will donate proceeds from the sale of cupcakes, cookies, Rice Krispies Treats and fudge to Community Health Systems, the hospital's corporate parent, for the purchase of thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, vital sign monitors and oxygen saturation monitors.

Although CHS is now the nation's largest hospital chain, and reported more than $1.5 billion in profits the past five years, Bluefield RNs say they struggle every day with inadequate equipment to assure proper care for patients.

Nurses report that in one of the hospital's medical surgical units, 3 West, there are only three vital sign monitors, half as many as required on a floor with up to 42 patients. The obstetrics department does not meet NRP (Neonatal Resuscitation Program) standards because there is a shortage in oxygen saturation monitors. These standards require RNs to regularly monitor the amount of oxygen babies are receiving and to assess whether intervention is needed.

"Without oxygen saturation monitors, we cannot provide appropriate treatment for the infants in the delivery room," said Brenda Meadwell, an RN in the OB department. "Our patients and family members deserve safe, therapeutic, and effective care and RNs cannot provide that without the proper equipment."

"On our floor, we don't have enough blood pressure machines or thermometers," said Mike Adams, an RN in the Medical Surgical department. "What do you think happens when we can't quickly locate the equipment we need? In certain situations it means we may not see a patient exactly when they need to be seen. The delay, due to equipment shortages, causes a ripple effect of delays across the unit."

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What: Nurses Bake Sale to Address Shortage in Essential Hospital Equipment at Bluefield Regional Medical Center

When: Saturday March 8th from 11am – 4 pm

Where: Food City, 1000 Leatherwood Lane, Bluefield, WV 24605

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Equipment shortages are just one of many patient safety issues raised by RNs over the past two years at BRMC. Management's refusal to address nurses’ widespread concerns was the driving force that galvanized Bluefield RNs to organize and win representation with the NNOC in August of 2012. Since that time, BRMC has been charged with multiple violations of federal law related to nurses’ efforts to advocate for patients and win economic and workplace fairness. Despite this, hospital executives have not addressed nurses’ concerns about patient safety issues and cuts in patient services and they have refused to bargain with the RNs for a first contract.

Bluefield Regional Medical Center's violations of the nurses’ rights and federal labor law prompted the National Labor Relations Board to order the hospital to appear in federal court on April 7.

After its recent merger with Health Management Associates (HMA), CHS became the largest and one of the wealthiest hospital chains in the country, controlling 206 hospitals. . CHS CEO Wayne Smith amassed $21.5 million in total compensation in 2011, according to the AFL-CIO Executive Pay Watch project.

 

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