Los Angeles Medical Center nurses go on strike for patient safety
Nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles (LAMC) held a one-day strike on June 23, 2022. The nurses say they were compelled to strike in response to Kaiser’s refusal to address their deep concerns about patient care and safe staffing.
“In the last four months, we have seen 50 nurses leave our hospital due to the poor working conditions that put patient care in jeopardy,” said Tinny Abogado, a registered nurse with 26 years experience, 20 of those years at LAMC. “I have spent two decades at this hospital caring for this community. It pains me to see experienced nurses leave our hospital. When they walk out the door they take knowledge and expertise that is critical in caring for our patients. Nurses are leaving because they work 12-hour shifts without a break. They reach for supplies and they are just not there. Kaiser made $8.1 billion in profits last year, they have enough money to make sure we have syringes when we need them, ancillary staff to help care for our patients, and relief nurses to provide RNs with meal breaks.”
The hospital’s records indicate a chronic problem with nurses unable to take their meal breaks during a 12.5 hour shift because there is no nurse to relieve them. Numerous studies have shown a link between health care worker fatigue and an increase in adverse events and medical errors. Patient care is compromised when nurses are expected to care for too many very sick patients without help from ancillary staff, and to work without breaks.
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LAMC nurses have been in negotiations since September 2021 for a new contract with little to no movement on key issues. The RNs are calling on Kaiser to invest in nursing staff, ensure that every unit on every shift has appropriate supplies, and invest in ancillary staff.
“We became nurses because we want to be there for our patients when they need us,” said Abogado. “But some days it feels so hard to continue because Kaiser is making it so hard for us to care for our patients in the way we would want to care for our family members. We suffer great moral injury and distress when we are forced to care for a patient without having the time to educate them or support them emotionally because we are running around looking for supplies or are doing too many jobs. Our patients deserve the best and we are fighting so they can get what they deserve.”