Press Release

Candlelight Vigil Wednesday, Bakersfield Memorial

For Immediate Release
August 9, 2011

Candlelight Vigil Wednesday: Bakersfield Memorial

Nurses Say: “Bakersfield Residents Deserve the Best Care Possible”

RNs sound alarm on unsafe patient staffing

Registered nurses at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, a part of the Catholic Healthcare West chain, will hold a candlelight vigil Wednesday, August 10, to highlight their concerns with unsafe staffing and a deterioration of patient care standards at the hospital, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.  

The central issues revolve around the ability of RNs to provide safe patient care. These include a safe floating policy where nurses won’t be forced to work in a unit outside their competency, the ability to take a rest or meal break during their 12-hour shifts, and chronic unsafe staffing in the neonatal intensive care unit, adult critical care, and labor and delivery departments, all in dire need of experienced RNs. The staff nurse Professional Practice Committee (PPC)  has met with nurse management and documented repeated incidents of unsafe practices for the last year in an effort to resolve these unsafe patient care issues without resolution.  

The nurses’ solution is to maintain an in-house registry to fill scheduling gaps. BMH seeks to eliminate this registry and instead fill positions with temporary nurses from an outside agency who are unfamiliar with hospital protocols and the patient population.
Previous use of the In-house registry proved helpful in alleviating unsafe staffing levels.  The In-house Registry (IHR) program that has been in place for 10 years has greatly reduced the mandatory “floating” of RNs to units in which they are not competent.  Additionally, the IHR has provided qualified RNs to properly staff busy units so patient needs can be met in a timely manner.
“Our nurses' voices can no longer be silenced,” said Sandy Reding, an operating room RN at the hospital. “We are holding a candlelight vigil to collectively advocate for safer patient care on behalf of our patients and to heal our community. Bakersfield patients deserve to be cared for by nurses vested in our community and familiar with the practices and protocols of our units and community doctors, rather than by temporary nurses from other states.  
What: Bakersfield Memorial Hospital RN Candlelight Vigil
Where: Wednesday, August 10, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, 420 34th Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301
Bakersfield Nurses Say: Take back our Community and Support the Main Street Contract for the American People—

RNs across the U.S. are rallying to take back our communities for better healthcare, jobs, education and housing. Nurses are calling on Wall Street to pay for the damage they have caused. Wages for American workers have fallen or stagnated for much of the past three decades, eroding the American promise of a better life for our children and future generations.
“Nurses reject cuts to essential social services including healthcare and Medicare,” said Reding. “Our patients come to the hospitals much sicker because they don’t have healthcare and have to choose between medication or food. We are standing up and help heal our community and our nation.  The priority is patients, not excessive profits.”

RNs represented by CNA/NNU are identifying broad declines in health tied to economic hardship and obstacles to healthcare coverage. Health conditions local nurses identified as linked to the current prolonged economic decline include stress-induced heart ailments in younger people, and adult diseases now found in children which include pancreatitis due to high-fat diets linked to low incomes; a range of gastrointestinal disorders, such as colitis; increased obesity, mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders, in youth populations; and higher and more severe asthma rates and increased premature births.

The Bakersfield protest is part of a national campaign, the Main Street Contract for the American People, to address the erosion of living standards and protections for families and future generations. The Main Street Contract calls for:

  • Equal access to quality, public education.
  • Guaranteed healthcare with a single standard of care.
  • A secure retirement with the ability to retire in dignity.
  • Good housing and protection from hunger.
  • A safe and healthy environment.
  • A just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.

The nurses who work at Bakersfield Memorial are represented by CNA/NNU, which represents more than 70,000 RNs in California and 170,000 RNs nationwide.