From Florida to Nevada, HCA RNs to Hold Actions to Alert Public to Escalating Patient Safety Concerns
Thousands of registered nurses at seven HCA hospitals from five states will hold socially distanced public actions in the Kansas City region and Nevada on Friday June 18 and in Florida and Texas on Monday, June 21 to alert the public to ongoing problems with safe staffing and growing concerns with retention at HCA facilities. (Full schedule of actions below)
Nurses at an eighth facility, Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. held a similar picket earlier this week as part of the current wave of actions. All the nurses are represented by National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of RNs.
At hospitals from coast to coast, the RNs have experienced consistent problems with HCA administrators violating their own staffing guidelines and cutting support staff, which has often led to short RN staffing which creates risks for patients.
At Doctors Hospital of Sarasota in Sarasota, Fla., for example, management violated its staffing guidelines by 61 percent from October to December, the RNs say. In intensive care units at Research Medical Center in Kansas City and Menorah Medical Center in nearby Overland Park, Kan., RNs frequently are dangerously required to care for three patients at the same time, all of whom are severely ill and need constant monitoring.
“With each additional patient, we increasingly have less time to devote the focused, individualized care our patients need, and the risk of serious complications increases,” said Kim Smith, an RN at Corpus Christi Medical Center in Corpus Christi, Tex.
The RNs will also voice concerns about proper relief staffing so that nurses are able to take meal and rest breaks, and other improvements to ensure the ability to retain experienced RNs at the bedside and recruit new nurses.
In the Kansas City region, HCA fails to provide any meal break relief for Research and Menorah RNs, simply assigning other bedside RNs the extra patients, in some cases doubling their patient load.
“When nurses miss a meal or rest break during a shift in which we are already stressed by short staffing, we are not well rested; it increases the risk of mistakes,” said Research RN Jennifer Caldwell. “Rest breaks are critical to ensuring safe care for our patients.”
High turnover rates pose serious risk to patients
Turnover at Mission, for example has topped 30 percent in the past year, RNs note. Similar turnover rates are seen throughout the HCA system. In the past 18 months in the Kansas City region, 612 RNs at Research and Menorah have left. At Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Fla., 170 RNs have left since January 2020, a turnover of nearly two-thirds of the nurse workforce.
“The loss of every RN is a calamity for our community,” said Fawcett RN Cynthia Butler. “That is invaluable professional experience and clinical expertise, many of whom have developed longtime knowledge of our patients. It is also an enormous and costly burden to recruit new RNs and ensure they receive the proper training to safely care for our patients.”
At all the facilities, the RNs are in talks with HCA management for a new collective bargaining contract. The current agreements expired on May 31 for Florida and Kansas City–area facilities, and they will expire on June 30 for Nevada and Texas.
Conditions could be greatly improved, nurses say, by common contract proposals that include stronger enforcement measures for safe staffing standards, additional resource RNs with proper clinical expertise and current bedside experience to provide for breaks, and economic improvements sufficient to recruit new nurses and retain experienced RNs.
This past year was the most difficult year in the professional lives of the RNs. Yet they stayed at the bedside caring for gravely ill patients amidst the most dangerous global pandemic in a century, during which many HCA RNs were also infected, and some died. Nurses say it is long past time for HCA to show respect for its frontline caregivers.
“HCA and administrators have called us heroes, but their treatment of nurses did not reflect that,” said Nicole Taylor, an RN at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas. “These contract negotiations represent an opportunity for the hospital to demonstrate its respect for the sacrifices that we made.”
The nurses note that HCA, the largest hospital corporation in the U.S., has more than enough resources to address their concerns. Last year alone, HCA reported $3.8 billion in profits. In the first quarter of 2021, HCA made $1.4 billion in profits.
NNU affiliates represent 12,000 HCA RNs at 20 HCA hospitals from California to Florida. Overall, NNU represents 175,000 RNs.
Socially Distanced Actions (with local staff contact) on Friday, June 18
- Research Medical Center, socially distanced informational picket
Includes RNs from Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park, Kan.
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., 2316 E Meyer Blvd, Kansas City, Mo.
- MountainView Hospital, socially distanced action
7:30 a.m., 3100 N. Tenaya Way, Las Vegas, Nev.
Socially Distant Actions (with local staff contact) on Monday, June 21
- Fawcett Memorial Hospital, socially distanced informational picket
6:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m., 21298 Olean Blvd, Port Charlotte, Fla.
- Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, socially distanced informational picket
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., 5731 Bee Ridge Rd., Sarasota, Fla.
- Oak Hill Hospital, socially distanced informational picket
7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., 11375 Cortez Blvd, Brooksville, Fla.
- Osceola Regional Medical Center, socially distanced informational picket
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., 700 Oak St., Kissimmee, Fla.
- Bay Area Medical Center, socially distanced action
6:30 p.m., 1650 Rodd Field Rd., Corpus Christi, Tex.