Press Release

Atlanta VA nurses to hold candlelight vigil for patient safety on Saturday

Large group of nurses outside holding signs "Staff Up for Safe Care"

Registered nurses and members of National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) will hold a candlelight vigil on Saturday, Sept. 16, to protest the on-going nursing crisis in the Atlanta VA Health System (ATL-VAHS) and Atlanta VA Medical Center, NNOC/NNU announced today.

The nurses, who work with veterans in Atlanta’s VA system, say VA executive management has created tragic conditions in their facilities through disrespecting the nursing staff, stretching nurses to the limit, and endangering patient safety with on-going short-staffing. The nurses fear patients suffering more due to the conditions, and hope their vigil will be a reminder for management of what’s at stake — the lives of their patients.

  • Who: NNU nurses who work at Atlanta VA Medical Center
  • What: Candlelight vigil and protest for respect and patient safety
  • When: Saturday, Sept. 16, 7:45 p.m.
  • Where: Atlanta VA Medical Center, 1670 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, Ga.

“The shortcomings of the Atlanta VA system fall directly on executive management, who do not listen to nurses when we tell them what support we need to recruit and retain seasoned nursing staffing,” said Dana Horton, RN and NNU Atlanta Area Director. “Nurses are leaving the VA Health System, but we know that a flexible scheduling policy already implemented at other VAs could make a difference in convincing them to stay. The VA itself knows this, but the Atlanta VA management is moving in the opposite direction. It’s as if they don’t care that seasoned and well-trained VA nurses have left and will continue to leave.”

“We are becoming increasingly and deeply concerned for our veterans because the nursing crisis at the Atlanta-VAHS is getting worse, and management refuses to listen,” said Florence Uzuegbunam, NP and NNU Atlanta Area Associate Director. “More seasoned nurses are planning to leave because they are morally and physically exhausted from being pushed to the limit. We have an 18.5 percent nursing position vacancy rate because of management’s inability to provide safe working conditions, onboard new nurses efficiently, or provide flexible scheduling. Overall, the nurses feel disrespected.”

Nurses have also filed multiple Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) against ATL-VAHS for refusal to cease and desist from illegally implementing unilateral changes and bad faith bargaining impacting hundreds of nurses.

NNOC/NNU represents nearly 900 registered nurses in the Atlanta VA Health System.

National Nurses Organizing Committee is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates also include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and New York State Nurses Association.