Press Release

Nurses at SSM Health SLU Hospital to hold candlelight vigil for patient safety

Group of nurses outside Saint Louis University Hospital holding banner "SSM Health: Invest in Patient Care!"

RNs demand that management prioritize patient care and invest in nurses.

Registered nurses at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital (SLUH) in St. Louis, Mo., will hold a candlelight vigil for patient safety on Thursday, Feb. 29, at 6 p.m., announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.

SLUH nurses are fighting for patient safety and a fair contract that addresses their concerns about nurse retention and recruitment. The RNs have been in contract negotiations since May 2023 for a new contract with little to no movement on key issues. Their contract expired on June 15, 2023. RNs say chronic short-staffing is affecting patient care. Over the past few months, nurses have seen an increase in patient falls, pressure sores, and delays in patient care due to SLUH’s staffing crisis.  

“After nine months of negotiations, SLUH management has made it clear that their priority is not patient care,” said Ben Christianson, RN in the behavioral health unit. “We know they have the resources to invest in the frontline nursing staff that our patients and communities need, but they seem more focused on their new office buildings. But patient care doesn’t happen in C-suite offices.”

  • Who: RNs at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, faith leaders, President of the Board of Alderman Megan Green, local labor leaders
  • What: Candlelight vigil for patient safety
  • Where: Corner of Grand Blvd. and Vista Ave., in front of the old SLU Hospital
  • When: Thursday, Feb. 29, 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., nurses to speak at 6:15 p.m.

"I love my patients at SLUH, but I would not want my family and loved ones being cared for in these conditions,” said Taylor Smith, RN in the medical-surgical unit. “We are so short-staffed that we are struggling to provide even the most basic care. Patients are even missing meals because we don't have enough dietary staff to provide food for our patients in a timely manner. Nurses should be helping you heal, not using precious minutes, if not hours, fighting hospital administration just so patients can get a hot meal."

The nurses have presented several proposals and attempted to compromise, but SSM continues to refuse to address the RNs’ concerns about recruitment and retention.

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing shows that, in Missouri and across the country, there is no nurse “shortage.” In fact, in Missouri, there are more than 38,000 RNs with active licenses who are not working as nurses in the state. Nationwide, there are more than a million registered nurses with active licenses who are choosing not to work at the bedside because of the hospital industry’s unsafe working conditions. More data and information debunking the nurse “shortage” myth can be found here.

SLUH RNs held an informational picket about the issues on July 19, 2023, a one-day strike on Sept. 25, and a two-day strike from Dec. 27 to Dec. 28. NNOC/NNU filed an unfair labor practices complaint in December with the National Labor Relations Board against SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital for coordinating a decertification effort when management should be bargaining in good faith.

National Nurses Organizing Committee has represented nurses at Saint Louis University Hospital since 2012.

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.