Contra Costa County Nurses Begin Two-Day Strike
Nurses Call on County to Invest in Patient Care
Nurses who work at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and clinics across the County will officially begin a two-day strike Tuesday, October 6, after what nurses say is the County’s continued failure to address serious patient care concerns they have been bringing to the County’s attention for over a year.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents almost 1,000 County registered nurses, nurse practitioners and public health nurses, called on the County to immediately improve working conditions in order to stop the hemorrhaging of experienced nurses to private hospitals. CNA notes there is a 30 percent wage gap for County RNs compared to the nearby private hospitals, and over 100 nurses have left the County in the last year. County nurses care for some of the sickest and most vulnerable members of the community, who seek care at Contra Costa County’s safety net hospital and outpatient clinics.
“We would, of course, rather be at the bedside, providing care,” said Liz Isenberg, RN. “But the loss of experienced nurses has resulted in deteriorating conditions for our patients at the County hospital and clinics. We can’t stand by and let that happen. We are walking out for a short time to advocate for improvements that will help our patients in the long run.”
What: Contra Costa County Nurses Strike
Where: Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, 2500 Alhambra Ave, Martinez, CA 94558
When: STRIKE: 7 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6—6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7
MARCH TO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING: 8:15 a.m. Tuesday. March will begin at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and end at County Administration Building (651 Pine St. #12, Martinez, CA 94553) around 9 a.m., for Board of Supervisors meeting. More than 300 RNs and supporters expected for march.
“With the closure of Doctors Medical Center in West Contra Costa County and with more people who are now eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we’re seeing thousands of new patients,” said Rosalind Walker, RN. “But the County refuses to staff our clinics and units with enough nurses—specifically with enough experienced nurses. When nurses feel unable to provide care in safe conditions, they leave. We are striking because, for over a year, the County has refused to adequately address this serious issue.”
The County’s Board of Supervisors authorized $3.7 million to hire replacement nurses for the strike—funds nurses say should go toward addressing the serious patient care issues nurses have brought to the County’s attention.
“Recently graduated nurses who find a first job with the County repeatedly move on to better standards at other hospitals. As a result, the County has essentially become a training center for the area’s private hospitals. Contra Costa County taxpayers are subsidizing the private sector by footing the bill for training nurses for them,” said Telemetry RN Wayne Dixon, who has been with the County for 12 years.
Nurses have been in negotiations with the County for 15 months and have been working without a contract since July.
Contra Costa County operates numerous health clinics, as well as Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, a full-service, acute care hospital in Martinez, CA.