San Bernardino County Nurses To Picket Arrowhead Regional Thursday
RNs protest unsafe patient care conditions, stalled talks
Several hundred San Bernardino County registered nurses from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), the county detention centers, juvenile halls, outpatient clinics, and public health programs will hold an informational picket on Thursday, May 1, to call attention to what they view as unsafe conditions for their patients and a lack of response in negotiations by county officials.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents approximately 1,300 RNs in San Bernardino County who have been trying to negotiate an agreement for more than four months with little progress on key issues of patient safety. Despite a current budget surplus, the county is proposing to cut standards that took decades to secure, according the nurses.
Issues include forcing RNs to work in units outside their area of expertise (referred to as floating) and unsafe and inadequate RN-to patient staffing, causing nurses to frequently work without the ability to take a break. The county is also spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on temporary nurses when it would be more cost effective and better for patient care to hire qualified, permanent nursing staff.
What: Informational Picket by hundreds of San Bernardino County RNs
When: Thursday, May 1, 2014 11:30 a.m.– 1:30 p.m.
Where: Arrowhead Regional Medical Clinic, 400 North Pepper Avenue, Colton, CA 92324
The nurses are also protesting a proposed wage freeze that will contribute to RN salaries remaining stagnant when compared to other comparable area hospitals, which is having an adverse effect on their ability to recruit and retain qualified experienced RNs.
“RNs are routinely assigned an unsafe number of patients, in violation of state law,” said Toni Rodriguez, an emergency room night shift charge nurse. “ARMC has one of the busiest emergency departments in the state, with an average of 340 new admissions and outpatient visits per day. The county has stalled for months in responding to proposals that would make it safer for patients, their families, and nurses delivering care at ARMC.”
“For months now, we have put forward proposals to county officials which address nurses’ concerns of unsafe staffing due, in part, to recruitment and retention issues, missed meals and breaks, and the lack of responsiveness from nursing administration to these concerns,” said Lieu Vo, a ARMC RN who works in the medical intensive care unit.
“We need patient safety provisions in our contract, similar to those that already exist in most California hospitals. One such proposal would require the county to provide dedicated RN rapid response teams. These teams are immediately available and trained to recognize patients that are rapidly deteriorating and in need of emergent intervention.”