Press Release

Central Coast nurses to hold press conference at Sierra Vista Hospital to advocate for safe staffing

Sign: "Save lives, hands off our ratios"

Central Coast registered nurses will gather on Thursday, Oct. 7 to express their outrage and respond publicly to a recent New Times-SLO article that quoted Rep. Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) advocating for hospitals to be given waivers on California’s landmark safe nurse-to-patient staffing law (or “ratios”)—claiming that assigning nurses far too many patients to safely care for at once, during the deadly Delta surge, is good for hospitals.

“Many of the current vacancies are a direct result of hospital administration’s failure to plan in advance for the Covid-19 crisis, including planning to staff up from day one. In other words, there’s not a nursing shortage, just a shortage of nurses willing to work in unsafe environments,” said Sierra Vista RN Amber Weihl. “Many more RNs will leave if the ratios are waived, because that patient workload is not healthy for patients or nurses.”

RNs are urging Tenet and Dignity Hospitals on the Central Coast to staff at optimal levels so that nurses can give patients the focused care they deserve—especially critical, say RNs, during the deadliest pandemic in a century.

  • What:      Press Conference
  • Who:       Central Coast Registered Nurses
  • When:     October 7, 12 noon – 1 p.m.
  • Where:    Murray Avenue and Santa Rosa, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
  • Contact:

During the pandemic, California hospitals have been bombarding state health officials for individual, temporary waivers from adherence to California’s landmark safe staffing law, which requires minimum levels of registered nurse staffing for various hospital units.

California’s multibillion dollar hospital industry fought for years to block the state’s landmark safe staffing law, and then tried to overturn it, even though studies have shown the California law has resulted in up to 14 percent fewer patient deaths than in comparable hospitals, assured nurses more time to spend with patients, and kept nurses at the bedside far longer. After a 12-year fight, safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios were voted into law against the objections of the hospital industry in 2004.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has urged each hospital to explore all possible avenues to mitigate the staffing crisis prior to seeking a waiver. Despite the waning Covid-19 infection rates and hospitalizations, Central Coast hospitals are still full, while RNs struggle with increasingly stressful working conditions brought on by prioritizing profit over safe staffing levels. During pandemic surges, nurses emphasize hospitals should be providing optimal staffing so nurses may provide the highest level of quality patient care.