Press Release

Doctors Medical RNs picket Oct. 5 to protest unsafe staffing

Large group of nurses outside, text - California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, with logos

Registered nurses at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Calif., will hold a picket on Tuesday morning, Oct. 5 to object to the chronic understaffing at the main hospital, as well as at the Department of Behavioral Health. Many departments are not in compliance with California’s state-mandated safe RN-to-patient staffing ratio law, which puts patients at risk, and has led to increased stress and moral distress among registered nurses, announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU).

RNs demand that Doctors Medical Center, owned by the corporate hospital chain Tenet Health, step up its efforts to recruit and retain registered nurses, bring in traveler nurses as needed, and to provide appropriate and ratio-compliant meal-and-break relief to RNs. Staffing levels must be improved to optimal levels during this Covid-19 surge so nurses may provide the highest level of quality patient care, and alleviate the unsafe and unsustainable working conditions that have caused many nurses to leave the facility.

  • What: Picket by Doctors Medical Center registered nurses
  • When: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Tuesday October 5, 2021
  • Where: Doctors Medical Center, 1441 Florida Ave. Modesto, Calif. (Corner of Florida Avenue and Orangeburg Avenue)

With many departments understaffed, and the current Covid-19 surge, RNs are concerned that Doctors has not been canceling elective procedures, has been attempting to unsafely reassign, or “float,” nurses to other departments without orientation or demonstrated competency, and attempting to circumvent ratios with initiatives such as "team nursing,” where the hospital cuts back on RNs and relies more upon lesser-skilled and unlicensed staff to care for patients.

California’s Title 22, which governs the practice of nursing, and California’s safe RN staffing laws are in full effect. The hospital must meet RN-to-patient ratios at all times. Under Title 22, nurses in an ICU should have a maximum of two patients and now they are receiving assignments of up to four patients.

The hospital, owned by Tenet Health, a publicly traded, for-profit hospital system based in Dallas, Texas, has failed to recruit and retain qualified staff, or even to bring in traveler RNs to fill short-term gaps, exacerbating the staffing issues.

"The staffing crisis at Doctors Medical Center and the Department of Behavioral Health is self-induced by Tenet," stated Laura Anderson, RN a Department of Behavioral Health RN for 12 years. "The chronic understaffing, and nurses being forced to work out of ratio, and often without meals and breaks, has taken a toll on our staff. We have lost many nurses, who have left as a result of unsafe and stressful working conditions."

Shiloh Garcia, a critical care nurse added, "Ultimately, there is no nursing shortage. Tenet is prioritizing profits over patients, and decisions being made by management, including their conscious decision to not provide better incentives to recruit and retain registered nurses, as well as not increasing their budget for travel nurses, make that clear."

Nurses will also share their concerns about management’s ongoing directive to reuse PPE, including N95 respirators during the Covid-19 pandemic -- even though there is no PPE shortage and most other hospitals nationwide have long ago returned to single-use-only practices. RNs have filed complaints through Cal/OSHA about such directives, which put both nurses and patients at risk of infection.

California Nurses Association represents more than 100,000 registered nurses in the state and is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of RNs in the country, with more than 175,000 members nationwide.