Press Release

Nurses in San Gabriel Valley and Whittier to hold informational picket to protest working conditions and remember those lost to Covid on Dia de los Muertos

Large group of CHEU members holding banner, CHEU and CNA logos

Registered nurses and health care workers at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center–AHMC Healthcare and Whittier Hospital Medical Center–AHMC Healthcare, will hold an informational picket on Monday, Nov. 1, Dia de los Muertos, to protest unsafe working conditions and to remember those lost to Covid, announced the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU) today.

Nurses and health care workers have worked through unsafe conditions during the height of the pandemic when personal protective equipment was locked away and rationed. They have lost family members, friends, and coworkers to Covid. Now they face unprecedented short staffing that threatens patient care and their own safety.

  • Who: RNs at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Whittier Hospital Medical Center
  • What: Informational picket to protest unsafe working conditions and to remember those lost to Covid-19

  • Where: San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, 438 W. Las Tunas, San Gabriel, CA
  • When: Monday, Nov. 1, 6 a.m.-8 a.m.

  • Where: Whittier Hospital Medical Center, 9080 Colima Rd, Whittier, CA (corner of Colima and Janine Dr.)
  • When: Monday, Nov. 1, 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

If you are interested in learning more, nurses will be available at the pickets to speak to reporters.

Chronic short staffing is a critical concern for RNs at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center (SGVMC) and Whittier Hospital. Nurses say they are assigned more patients than they can safely care for and that their facilities are violating California’s safe staffing law that mandates nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Unsafe assignments result in patients waiting longer for care and, in some cases, waiting hours for an open bed because there are not enough nurses to care for them.

In addition, at SGVMC, nurses say hospital management is failing to follow their own safety protocols. The facility is not consistently screening visitors and thus allowing Covid-positive visitors to enter the facility, needlessly exposing staff, patients, and other visitors to the virus. Health care workers — including nursing assistants and respiratory and radiology technicians — at SGVMC are also experiencing chronic short staffing. The working conditions are creating moral distress and are greatly affecting health care workers’ ability to give proper care to their patients.

CNA and CHEU members at SGVMC and CNA members at Whittier are in bargaining for a new contract. The last contract expired in June 2021.

“This pandemic has made us all more aware of the lack of respect shown for our profession,” said Jaime Johnsrud, RN, Whittier Hospital. “Management cares more about profits than their patients and staff. We went from heroes to zeroes. Their lack of respect and refusal to bargain in good faith has resulted in high turnover, jeopardizing patient care.”

Nurses’ and health care workers’ solutions to the staffing crisis, such as ways to improve recruitment and retention and ensuring that health and safety measures are enforced, have been ignored. And, to add insult to injury, the employer has proposed increasing overall out-of-pocket medical expenses by at least 50 percent and to limit employees’ health care to AHMC internal facilities only.

CNA and CHEU represent 900 employees (RNs and health care workers) at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and more than 300 registered nurses at Whittier Hospital Medical Center. CHEU is a sister union to CNA.