Press Release

Durham VA nurses to hold speakout and rally for safe patient care and RN retention

Large group of nurses outside hospital holding banner "Strong Union, Nurses, Veterans"

RNs demand that Durham VA address moral distress and lack of flexible work schedules to retain nurses

Registered nurses at the Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, N.C., will hold a protest on Thursday, March 7, to demand that the VA address their concerns about patient safety, staff moral distress, and lack of flexible work schedules to retain nurses at their facility, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.

In July 2023, the Durham VA piloted an alternative work schedule in two inpatient units, known as “72/80”. According to the VA’s own research on the pilot program, the policy is expected to save the Durham VA $1.73 million annually when fully implemented in all inpatient units. However, because the program has not been expanded beyond the two units, some nurses have been leaving the Durham VA. Because the VA hiring process can take several months, retaining nurses is especially critical for maintaining patient safety. 

“We need to retain our nurses so we can give our veterans the best care,” said Libby Manly, RN. “The ‘72/80’ alternative work schedule gives nurses a better work-life balance. Nurses are outraged that Durham VA leadership has not fully implemented this program when we know it works well for nurses, veterans, and the VA. We demand that all inpatient nurses get to participate in this program.”

  • Who: RNs at the Durham VA Medical Center, local labor leaders, and community members
  • What: Speakout and rally for patient safety
  • When: Thursday, March 7, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., nurses to speak at 4:15 p.m.
  • Where: Durham VA Health Care System, 508 Fulton St., Durham, N.C.

"Nurses in the VA are suffering from moral distress because of the conditions we’re dealing with, and we know this can negatively impact patient care,” said Ann Marie Patterson-Powell, RN. “We waited six months after the program was tested for a decision from management. But now, that date has come and gone, and nurses are leaving the VA. We need this policy to be competitive with other area hospitals, so we can keep the great nurses we have here right now and recruit more.”

NNOC/NNU represents roughly 950 registered nurses at the Durham VA.

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.