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HCA RNs Win Key Gains in Patient Care, RN Standards in First Contract at Las Vegas Hospital

NNOC/NNU Press Release Press Release, 12/9/11

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Registered nurses at a Las Vegas hospital that is part of the nation’s largest hospital chain, Nashville-based HCA, have achieved their first collective bargaining contract with important improvements in patient care protections and enhanced professional and economic standards that will help keep experienced RNs at the bedside, National Nurses United announced today.

The agreement affects some 450 RNs at HCA’s MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas who are members of NNU’s Nevada affiliate. NNU is the nation’s largest union and professional association of RNs. The agreement was ratified by nurses at the hospital in membership meetings that concluded Thursday night.

RNs say the settlement could influence negotiations at 16 other HCA hospitals in Florida, Texas, and Missouri where NNU affiliates are also in talks for a first contract.

“The patient care provisions we negotiated at MountainView serve as a model for what is possible to achieve for registered nurses in contract talks in HCA hospitals in Florida, Missouri, and Texas,” said Marissa Gutierrez, a critical care RN at MountainView.

“When RNs stick together for quality patient care and our professional practice, it is a win for everyone – patients, nurses, our hospital, and the community,” Gutierrez said.

“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this agreement,” said Liz Bickle, RN who works in the progressive care unit.  “The gains we made make me excited to continue my career in a facility that will really value skilled experienced nurses.”

One key element was the hospital’s agreement to create a staffing committee that would begin examining the hospital’s staffing grids and make changes, starting with the hiring of additional RNs in the medical-surgical units to assist with staffing and patient care needs during patient admissions and discharges, as well as to assure nurses are able to take meal and rest breaks. Additionally, the hospital agreed there would be no mandatory overtime.

Both are significant measures to reduce fatigue and stress, which are essential to safer patient care and reducing potential medical errors. Similarly, the pact includes provisions for safe patient handling, including patient lift equipment and training, and policies to assure nurses are only assigned to areas for which they have proper clinical competency.

“RNs on the medical-surgical units have desperately needed a nurse position to help with admissions, discharges and break relief,” said Desha-aka Maria Ygente, RN, a medical surgical floor RN at the hospital.  

“Our new contract calls for creation of   “Rescue RN”, who work overlapping  shifts, and don’t have their own patient assignments to enable them to perform those functions,” Ygente said.  “When we organized and elected to become part of NNOC/NNU we knew we had become part of a tradition of setting precedent for RNs nationally.   The Rescue RN has been added to that tradition.”

Further, the contract establishes a Professional Practice Committee, elected by RNs, to meet with management to resolve various patient care issues.

RNs will receive pay increases ranging from 9 to 19 percent over the 3.5 years of the pact.

Other elements of the first contract include provisions for professional advancement, such as paid educational leave for the RNs, procedures for resolving employment disputes, and fair policies to address layoffs, job bidding and scheduling.

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