Press Release

Locked-Out Nurses to Picket Tuesday Before Returning to Work Wednesday Morning

For Immediate Release
March 7, 2011

Washington Hospital Center Locks Out Nurses for Four Days in Retaliation for One-Day Strike Over Patient Care Issues at City’s Largest Hospital. Nurses want answers: how much money has MedStar wasted on union-busting?

Remaining unified in the face of a retaliatory lock-out by the District of Columbia’s largest hospital, registered nurses from Washington Hospital Center will rally and picket this Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., advocating for patient care improvements and safe nurse staffing at the facility.  The hospital’s lockout of the nurses ends Wednesday morning.

WHAT: Locked-out Nurses Hold Final Day of Rallies and Pickets
WHERE: Washington Hospital Center, First and Irving St., NW
WHEN: Tuesday, March 8, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Nurses went on a one-day strike at the facility over what they see as deteriorating care conditions, and on the day of their strike held a major rally outside the facility, drawing some 2,000 people, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, former Redskin Nolan Harrison III, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and DC City Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., among others.

“We have called this strike because we want to ensure that this hospital is safe for our patients,” said Jessie Ruehl, an emergency room RN at the hospital at that rally. “Our moral, ethical, and professional responsibility is to advocate for our patients, and we intend to do just that.”
“Numerous studies have shown that poor nurse staffing is unsafe for patients and causes nurses to burn out,” Ruehl said.  “This leads to high nurse turnover rates with more and more nurses leaving the hospital.  This problem is rampant at Washington Hospital Center.  WHC cannot keep pace with the nurses leaving. 1,300 nurses have left since 2005.”  
RNs at the facility are demanding the hospital release information on the cost of the hospital’s campaign against them, including the costs to contract with a notorious Colorado-based strikebreaking company, U.S. Nursing Corp., and its media advertising costs.  At a strike last year by a similar number of RNs at Temple University in Philadelphia, the hospital spent on average $1 million a day over a four-week strike, according to Temple’s own audited statements.