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Watsonville RNs Hold Holiday Picket for Safer Patient Care

Press Release Press Release, 12/23/10

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For Immediate Release

Dozens of Registered Nurses from Watsonville Community Hospital joined a holiday picket Thursday, December 23 to protest patient care problems throughout the facility.  
 
The nurses say patient safety at the hospital has been compromised by management’s refusal to follow California’s lifesaving safe nurse to patient ratio law, with patients not receiving appropriate coverage when nurses take their legally-protected meals or breaks.  
 
Very ill patients do not receive the level of nursing care they are entitled to assert the RNs because they say the hospital refuses to adjust the ratios by patient acuity.
 
Watsonville, which is owned by the large, Tennessee-based, for-profit hospital chain, Community Health Systems, has refused to consider the nurses’ proposals for safer staffing.
 
Tim Thomas, RN, a nurse leader at Watsonville, spoke at a brief rally on the picket line and criticized CHS for stalling on the nurses’ efforts to improve staffing. The nurses will continue the fight for their patients for as long as necessary, Thomas said.
 
RNs represented by NNU affiliate the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals are also fighting CHS  over many of the same issues of corporate management cutting corners on patient care. The Pennsylvania RNs held a  one-day strike December 23 at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, a CHS facility, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
 
“As a nurse, I am obligated to stand up and advocate for my patients however I can.  I know that patient care and patient safety has been de-emphasized by management at Watsonville Community Hospital, which instead is trying to skirt the law and cutback on nurses,” said Mary Kelly, a Medical-Surgical unit RN at Watsonville.
 
“The worst part of it all is that while our hospital in Watsonville acts as if there’s not enough money to take care of patients appropriately, there is enough money for the hospital owners to offer $3.3 billion for Tenet Healthcare. Shouldn’t Community Health Systems—one of the richest hospital chains in the country—focus first on taking care of the patients they already have?” asked Sandy Flanagan, an RN in the neo-natal ICU at the facility.

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