Sutter RNs hold two strikes

Submitted by ADonahue on January 4, 2023
Large group of nurses outside hold signs "Sutter RNs On Strike"

Nurses in Berkeley and Oakland demand safe working conditions

Staff report

National Nurse Magazine - Oct | Nov | Dec 2022 Issue

Registered nurses at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) in Oakland and Berkeley held a five-day strike in October in response to persistent patient care issues, including workplace violence and high turnover rates. They held a second nine-day strike in late December and January, citing concerns over working conditions, continuing education, and benefits.

“We are seeing a mass exodus of nurses from the medical center due to the poor working conditions,” said Mike Hill, RN in the intensive care unit at ABSMC in Oakland. “Sutter has a responsibility to ensure that nurses have what they need to provide the highest quality of care and have workplace violence prevention plans for each unit in place. I am seeing nurses leave the medical center for other nursing positions on a regular basis. We have nurses working overtime, and even double shifts day after day to keep the hospital running. Sutter must create working conditions to enhance patient care while also providing a safe work environment that retains nurses.”

California Nurses Association represents 1,800 nurses at Sutter Health’s ABSMC campuses.

“I have worked at ABSMC for more than 40 years, and I have never seen Sutter act this disrespectfully towards nurses, and therefore to our patients,” said Ann Gaebler, a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit at ABSMC in Berkeley. “Nursing is a tough profession, it demands the ability to understand and retain complex medical knowledge, an ability to stay calm when things get difficult, a compassionate nature, and emotional resilience.

“It takes time to master the nursing profession and it takes mentorship from experienced nurses to get there,” said Gaebler. “We are losing our experienced nurses because of the working conditions at ABSMC. Without proper mentorship, we see young nurses suffering the moral injury and the moral distress of having to care for patients without the support they need, and so they leave. This is not how you grow the next generation of nurses or how to take care of a community.”