Press Release

Fallbrook RN Candlelight Vigil Protest Thurs. @ 5:00 p.m. San Diego RNs Decry Fallbrook Firing of RN

Hospital chain CHS defies court orders to end illegal retaliation against RNs in its hospitals nationwide
Registered nurses from hospitals throughout San Diego County are holding a candlelight vigil protest on Thursday evening in support of Veronica Poss, the Fallbrook Hospital nurse who was unjustly fired on Monday by her hospital’s corporate owner, Community Health Systems, (CHS), the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU), reported today.
The union immediately filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Fallbrook for the termination of Poss.
She is one of two RNs terminated by CHS, just weeks after speaking out earlier this month at a national press conference in Naples, Fla. outside a shareholders meeting of another big for-profit chain, Health Management Associates, where a vote was being taken to accept a buyout by CHS.

RNs at CHS’ Watsonville Community Hospital are also holding a candlelight protest in support of Tim Thomas, who was fired Tuesday and is a longtime RN leader at that facility.
Poss has been the most prominent RN public advocate at Fallbrook and in her community for addressing serious problems with patient safety, and calling for improvements to protect public health.  She publically admonished CHS in a television interview in December about CHS’ plan to close the cardiac rehabilitation unit, a vital service to senior residents of the area.    
“I’ve been a consistent advocate at Fallbrook Hospital for patient care improvements, safe staffing, and RN rights,” said Veronica Poss. “It’s disgraceful that CHS’ corporate management has taken such extreme and uncalled for measures against me and other RNs across the system for our efforts on behalf of our patients, our profession, and our community.”
What:         San Diego Nurses Candlelight Vigil Protest
When:        Thurs. Jan. 30, 2013
                   5:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m.
Where:       Fallbrook Community Hospital
                   624 East Elder Street, Fallbrook, CA 92028

CHS is taking these steps despite being already under court orders at three of its hospitals in California and Ohio for retaliatory threats, harassment, firings of RNs, and other violations of other RN rights.
“These disgraceful firings are being carried out in direct retaliation for the public advocacy of these courageous nurses, and in an attempt to silence any nurses who will speak out about rampant patient care problems in their facilities,” said Jean Ross, RN and copresident of National Nurses United, the country’s largest nursing organization of which CNA is an affiliate.
“This action is also an unmistakable message of defiance to the courts and the federal labor board that CHS will persist in its harassment and intimidation of nurses, despite federal sanctions, and a somber warning for communities with CHS hospitals that local management is indifferent to nurses’ warnings about patient safety,” Ross said.
The firings occurred less than a week after a U.S. District Court judge delivered a sweeping cease and desist injunction against a CHS hospital in Ohio, ordering it to stop its lawless behavior of illegal discipline and harassment of its RNs, and reinstate an illegally fired Ohio RN.  Last week an administrative law judge also found CHS affiliate Greenbrier Valley Medical Center to have violated federal law when it disciplined a nurse in retaliation for his union activity.
Federal courts have issued similar orders in the past few months at the CHS hospital in Barstow as well as in Fallbrook. CHS’ refusal to address nurses’ widespread concerns about patient safety was the driving force that galvanized RNs from the chain’s hospitals in Ohio, West Virginia, and California to organize and win representation with NNU in 2012.
CHS is now the largest hospital chain in the country, controlling 206 hospitals. The facilities are  mostly in rural communities where patients have no other options for hospital care, making small isolated areas like Fallbrook vulnerable to low patient safety standards.