Redding and Reno nurses hold one-day strike
By Lucy Diavolo
National Nurse Magazine - April | May | June 2022 Issue
On June 23, hundreds of registered nurses at Prime Healthcare facilities Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding, Calif., and Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev., held a one-day strike to protest the administration’s disregard for staff and patient safety. At Shasta Regional, RNs at the facility are demanding management take action to change policies that contradict best practices, such as routinely making profit-driven staffing decisions that do not follow the clinically proven safe-staffing ratios needed to protect patients and produce best health outcomes.
“We are here for the patients,” said Lisa Doms, RN, who works in the operating room at Shasta Regional. “We are community members, and we want to deliver the safest care possible. But we are stretched beyond our limits with the number of patients assigned to us. We’re not staffed enough to be able to safely take a break from our duties during our shifts, and that increases risks to patients.”
California Nurses Association represents nearly 30 nurses at Shasta Regional, where RNs have been in negotiations since May 2021 for a new contract with little movement on these key issues. The RNs urge management to invest in nursing staff and agree to a contract that provides key improvements like break and meal periods that maintain safe staffing ratios required under state law. Nurses are demanding a safer workplace that respects the role of RNs as patient advocates and competitive compensation levels that will help recruit and retain experienced RNs in light of staff attrition at the facility.
“State-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios aren’t suggestions, they are data-driven standards that have proven to save lives,” said Michelle Gaffney, an RN who works in Shasta Regional’s intensive care unit. “The patients deserve nothing less than being consistently cared for throughout their stay in the hospital, and safe staffing levels — for nurses and for all hospital staff — are the best way to do that.”
Meanwhile, in Reno, Saint Mary’s nurses have been in negotiations since October 2021 for a new contract with little to no movement on key issues. CNA/National Nurses Organizing Committee represents more than 500 RNs at the facility. The RNs urge management to agree to a contract that includes major investments in nurse staffing to safely staff Saint Mary’s; adequate supplies of basic medical equipment and supplies, including personal protective equipment, medical devices, and basic essentials; improved working conditions that will slow the tide of staff attrition; and wages and benefits that are competitive with surrounding community standards to retain and recruit experienced nurses.
“Saint Mary’s used to be a place nurses like me aspired to work,” said Katie Dawson, an RN in Saint Mary’s critical care unit. “But mismanagement is driving talented nurses away from our facility. The best way to fix this is for management to listen to nurses because we know what this hospital needs to succeed.”
“So many accomplished nurses have left Saint Mary’s because of the administration’s mismanagement and failures,” said Bethany Want, RN, who works in the postpartum unit. “It’s time for management to do better and come to the table to solve these problems.”
Lucy Diavolo is a communications specialist at National Nurses United.