Union nurse testifies at U.S. Senate field hearing

Submitted by ADonahue on
Hannah Drummond, RN testifying in front of Senate hearing

Mission Hospital RN appeared as a witness before the HELP Committee

By Lucy Diavolo

National Nurse magazine - April | May | June 2024 Issue

Hannah Drummond, a registered nurse at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., appeared at a U.S. Senate subcommittee field hearing hosted by Sen. Ed Markey in Boston, Mass., on April 3. Drummond is the chief nurse representative at Mission Hospital and a member of National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), an affiliate of National Nurses United.

At this field hearing of the Primary Health and Retirement Security Subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, Drummond was featured among several witnesses speaking to the ways corporate greed endangers patient care and health care workers, something Drummond has direct experience with as an employee of HCA, the largest for-profit health care system in the country.

“My experience at Mission is representative of the decisions being made at HCA-owned hospitals across the country, which are being stripped of staff and essential services like nurseries, behavioral health, and trauma centers, leaving vulnerable communities without access to critical health services,” said Drummond at the hearing. “Health care should not be a business. That’s why nurses across this country support a single-payer Medicare for All system that will transform our profit-driven health care system into one that prioritizes patient care.” To see Drummond's remarks, visit the Senate hearing page.

Nurses at Mission Hospital voted to join NNOC in 2020, the year after the HCA takeover, resulting in the largest hospital union victory in the south in decades at the time. Since then, Mission nurses successfully negotiated their first contract while remaining vocal and steadfast advocates for their patients and the entire Asheville and western North Carolina community. Advocacy by Mission nurses was instrumental in prompting both state and federal actions to investigate HCA’s practices at Mission, including the North Carolina attorney general’s lawsuit against HCA and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ temporary determination of immediate jeopardy for patients at the facility.

NNOC represents roughly 1,500 registered nurses at Mission Hospital. Nurses at Mission Hospital are among more than 10,000 NNOC/NNU nurses negotiating new contracts with HCA this year.

HCA, the largest health system in the country, advertises over 180 hospitals in its network. The company self-reported over $5.2 billion in profits in 2023 but regularly shuts down vital health services at its hospitals. According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, HCA has reported over $31.7 billion in profits since 2018 and executive compensation totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. 

HCA co-founder and major shareholder Thomas Frist, Jr., who has extensive experience serving as an executive at HCA, currently ranks at 32 in the Forbes 400 Richest Americans and at 57 in Bloomberg Billionaire Index of the world’s 500 richest people, with an estimated net worth of nearly $30 billion. 

Lucy Diavolo is a communications specialist at National Nurses United.