Press Release

RNs Denounce Sutter’s Devastating Closure of Major Unit for Chronic Severely Ill Patients

THURSDAY—Herrick Hospital—11:00 a.m.

Latest cut a pattern by healthcare chain that made $4.2 BILLION since 2007

Click to see pictures from the action!

Registered nurses from throughout the Bay Area will join their Sutter nurse colleagues Thursday in front of Herrick Hospital to protest the large hospital chain’s closure of another vital healthcare service, the pulmonary sub-acute unit (PSAU), the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today. 

They will also be calling out hospital management for its abject failure to place the all-Filipino direct-care RNs, whose jobs were no longer available as a result of the closure, into vacant positions.  The PSAU RNs, some of whom have been with the medical center for over 20 years, have been categorically ignored en masse by management despite their vast experience.

What:          RN Press Conference

When:         Thursday August 23, 2012 11:00 a.m.

Where:        Herrick Hospital (sidewalk in front)

                   2001 Dwight Way Berkeley, CA 94704

The PSAU which has been existence for 23 years ran consistently at its full capacity of 48 beds for most of its existence until Sutter Health took over.  As has been the trend with Sutter across Northern California, PSAU was deemed a liability and the large hospital chain announced its closure at the end of April. Upon final discharge of the last patient, Sutter completed its mission of cutting PSAU services at its Herrick campus on Monday.

Eighteen months ago, Sutter stopped admitting patients, which reduced the number of patients by more than half. This allowed Sutter to also reduce its nursing staff, with nurses already stretched thin by being one of the only hospital units not covered by California’s minimum RN-to-patient ratio law.

These are long-term patients who “required total care and constant monitoring and who need to be in a unit with highly skilled, committed RNs,” said Malinda Markowitz, RN, CNA co-president. “Many have been there 10 years; a few have been there since the unit opened 23 years ago.  Sutter is transferring a vulnerable patient population to facilities with reports of inferior care and equipment. This corporation is making life-and-death decisions that benefit their bottom line, not their patients.”

“This is a nightmare. I have devoted my life for the last eight years, spending six hour days to ensure that my daughter is well taken care of and has some quality of life,” said one family member of a patient in the unit.  Another patient’s family member stated,“ Many of the nurses worked there since he was admitted over ten years ago and have taken good care of my son. It will take a tremendous toll on him if he is transferred to a new place where he knows no one. The nurses are not crying about losing their jobs, they are crying for their patients.”

Displaced all-Filipino caregivers held to Unequal Standard in Job Rebidding

“The all-Filipino RN workforce of the PSAU unit  are a tightly knit group of nurses who have treated patients as family since the unit  first opened,” said Efren Garza, an RN who works in the behavioral health unit and is on the CNA RN bargaining team.  “With their long-term patients facing no hope of recovery the PSAU nurses were required to provide “more than complete care.”

Sutter has informed the PSAU RNs that they must pass a rigorous 200-hour reentry program in order to be considered for continued employment, while ignoring transfer requests for every PSAU nurse but one.

“Sutter Health’s slick ad campaigns state ‘Sutter Health, With You For Life,’ ” said Garza.  “For the Herrick PSAU patients, family members, and now their nurses, that’s not the case.”