Huntington RNs Cite Recent Firings as Latest in Management Pattern of Violating Nursesâ€™ Rights
As Superbug Crisis Unfolds, RNs Say Nurse Intimidation Must End
Registered nurses will gather at Huntington Memorial Hospital Monday to speak out about the recent firing of an outspoken nurse leader in Huntington RNs’ fight to better advocate for patients by forming a union—as well as the firing of a nurse co-worker.
RN Allysha Almada testified on a July panel of elected officials and community leaders about nurses’ efforts to organize collectively, to hold management accountable for addressing issues that impact patient safety, such as understaffing. RNs say it was Almada’s outspoken advocacy at this panel that led to her firing.
“I put my whole soul into caring for my patients, and management knows this,” says Almada, who was fired after nearly five years in the Huntington ICU. “I’ve worked as a nurse educator, sat on a committee of nurse leaders who bring patient care concerns to management; I have special training in trauma and open heart. I care deeply about providing the best possible care, and that’s exactly why I spoke up at the panel—to help ensure that RNs are supported in providing top-quality, safe care. The next thing I knew, I was being fired. This is intimidation—and it’s wrong.”
What: Press Conference — Nurses Speak Out on Firings, RN Rights Violations
When: Monday, August 24 – 12 Noon
Where: Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, CA – On East sidewalk of Pasadena Avenue, across from Waverly Organic Farm (679 S. Pasadena, CA 91105)
Almada’s ICU co-worker and fellow union supporter Vicki Lin was also fired, a move nurses say management made in an effort to appear as if they were conducting generalized firings. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) announced that it filed an unfair labor practice charge Friday with the National Labor Relations Board.
"On my last annual review, I was rated 98 out of 100," said Vicki Lin RN, who has been working in the ICU for two years. "It just doesn't make sense to let go of nurses who are doing good work-simply because we want to exercise our federal right to work collectively in the best interest of our patients."
Huntington Memorial RNs began organizing to affiliate with CNA/NNU in May of 2014, after attempts to engage management on patient care issues were rebuffed. Management responded with an illegal effort to thwart unionization. Despite being issued a formal NLRB complaint—citing seven instances of unlawful conduct—management continued its pattern of union-busting up through the RNs’ attempted election in April of 2015.
CNA/NNU ultimately called on federal officials to set aside the election, citing more than 40 violations of federal workplace protections that made a “free and fair election impossible.” Almada testified on a Sunday, July 26, community panel about nurses’ efforts to address patient care issues by organizing as a union—and was fired shortly thereafter.
"Letting Allysha go is not only inappropriate but a clear form of intimidation. Huntington management is trying to intimidate and silence nurses who speak out to improve patient care," said Marcela Crowley, an RN in the Operating Room. "As nurses we must feel empowered to advocate for our patients and our practice; that is why we stand behind Allysha and call for her immediate reinstatement."
“The firing of Allysha and Vicki is not a coincidence, it’s a pattern of intimidation,” says Maria Aguirre, RN. " It’s unconscionable to treat nurses this way — especially right now while our hospital is in the middle of a care crisis with the pseudomonas bacteria outbreak.”
Huntington Memorial alerted health authorities Wednesday to a potential link between three Huntington patients who were found to have the pseudomonas bacteria ‘superbug,’ and Olympus Corp. duodenoscopes that were used to tread the patients. The bacteria—which can be deadly—can become trapped inside the reusable devices, potentially putting future patients at risk.
“Management’s firing of two excellent nurses on a flimsy pretext is an affront to all HMH RNs, our patients and our community,” says Aguirre. “Surely Huntington patients deserve a hospital where nurses are free to speak up publicly and advocate for themselves and their patients. With the current superbug concerns, the last thing the hospital should be doing is trying to silence the RNs.”
CNA leaders have blasted the conduct of hospital officials in what CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez, RN called “an unconscionable, immoral and illegal campaign of harassment, coercion and intimidation against their frontline caregivers. Huntington’s actions made a mockery of democracy.” Nurses say they will not back down, and that they are committed to exercising their federally protected rights to form a union.
“We just want to be back to work, caring for our patients,” says Almada. “Our focus has always been on care, and it always will be. We only ask management to have that same priority.”