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Nurses from Across Texas to March in Corpus Christi in Support of Patient Advocacy Protections

Press Release Press Release, 2/23/10

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For Immediate Release
February 22, 2010

Christus Spohn Chain Agrees to Federal Demands to Recognize RN Rights of Association and Collective Patient Advocacy

Nurses from across Texas will march and rally in Corpus Christi Tuesday February 23rd to demand hospitals across the state recognize their democratic rights to associate and advocate individually and collectively for their patients—rights that were recently affirmed locally when the Christus Spohn hospital system agreed to end retaliation and intimidation of nurses who had spoken up on behalf of their patients. The nurses are leaders in NNOC-Texas (the National Nurses Organizing Committee-Texas), which counts over 10,000 nurse activists in the Lone Star State and is affiliated with National Nurses United, the professional association and union for RNs.

The RNs will rally with Representative Abel Herrero, and then march to the office of Christus Spohn as they call on it to follow federal law, Catholic social justice teachings, and the best interest of hospital patients by honoring the rights of Christus Spohn nurses who choose to collectively advocate for patient care.

Schedule:

  • Nurses will rally at Cole Park (Ocean Dr. @ Ayers St.) with Representative Herrero and Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller--12:00 noon.
  • Will march from Cole Park to the Christus Spohn CEO’s office (Santa Fe St. @ Ayers st.)--12:15 p.m.
  • Will deliver more than 300 postcards of support signed by nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters and other community supporters across the state to the CEO to urge the facility and all Christus Spohn facilities to respect the rights of RNs to engage in collective patient advocacy.  The cards read in part, “RNs of the Christus Spohn Health system should be free to participate in patient advocacy individually and collectively without retaliation or intimidation.”

The problems at Christus Spohn Shoreline were sparked when two nurses there were unjustly disciplined by management after speaking up for, among other things, the need for nurses to be able speak together in a unified voice on important patient care and safety issues.

One nurse was suspended and another terminated.  After these nurses filed labor charges with the federal government, Christus Spohn recently agreed to respect RN rights to engage in collective patient advocacy, pay over $26,000 in lost wages, and make whole the two nurses that had been disciplined.  Moreover, Christus Spohn has agreed to recognize the rights of their nurses to form a union.

“When nurses feel intimidated, or threatened, or bullied, or like they might face retaliation from hospital management for standing up for patients, it has a chilling effect on their ability to do their jobs,” said Missy Gorbet, RN, a Corpus Christi nurse at Christus Spohn Shoreline.  “RNs are professionally and ethically obligated to act as patient advocates, which means we must always speak out and ensure that patients receive the best care possible.  If nurses are put in the position of fearing for their jobs as a result, patient care will be undermined.” 

Jill Furillo, RN, Director of Catholic Hospitals for the National Nurses Organizing Committee noted that “the United States Conference on Bishops requires Catholic hospitals like Christus to honor labor unions as part of the Church’s social justice teachings.  We are pleased that they are acting in accordance with these teachings, and we expect nurses to be treated with the respect and protections they deserve.”

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