Press Release

Nurses to Picket at University of Chicago Medical Center over Concerns about Patient Care and Safety

Nurses to Picket at University of Chicago Medical Center

RNs demand UCMC address short staffing, equipment shortages, and insufficient security protocols

Registered nurses will hold an informational picket and rally Monday, July 22, 2019 at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) to inform the public of their concerns about patient care at the hospital, announced National Nurses United Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today. The nurses say chronic short staffing across the hospital, insufficient security protocols, and equipment shortages make it difficult for nurses to provide optimal care to their patients.

“We are committed to providing our patients with the very best care possible on all shifts,” said Johnny Webb, RN. “But it is simply impossible to provide the care we want to provide, when we are caring for too many sick patients, when we are forced to leave our patients to search for IV pumps and when we are not sure if our patients or our colleagues are at risk of violence.”

What: Informational Picket and Rally
When: Monday, July 22 - Picket 7:30 am to 11:30 am -- Rally 8:30 am  
Where: In front of Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine - 5758 S Maryland Ave, Chicago, IL 60637

Short Staffing

Registered nurses say the short-staffing problem at UCMC is so dire that since January of 2017, nurses filled out more than 1,500 reports detailing their concerns about how staffing levels might lead to adverse outcomes for their patients. On these forms, nurses document numerous instances where patient care was compromised by short staffing including delays in chemotherapy administration for cancer patients and an inability to provide adequate monitoring for critical patients in intensive care units. One RN in ambulatory cardiology cut short her vacation short because her unit had only two nurses instead of the necessary four, and she feared that if nurses were unable to respond to patients within 24 hours, they would wind up in the emergency room or die at home.

Security Concerns

Nurses are also concerned that staffing levels are creating an environment that makes the hospital vulnerable to incidents of violence directed at both patients and nurses. A survey of the nurses indicates that 67 percent had been threatened by a patient or a visitor, 32 percent said they had been kicked, and 28 percent said they had been hit or had an object (including a chair or a lamp) thrown at them.

“We have a situation where we have patients and family members who are trying to manage incredible stress, or suffering a mental health crisis, or they simply don’t understand why it is taking so long for us to answer the call buttons,” said BrigittManson-McToy, RN. “All these factors, coupled with short staffing contribute to the potential for violence on the units. RNs bargained new language intended to address these issues in the previous contract, but management has failed to implement the language. Patients need a safe place to heal and nurses deserve a safe place to work.”

In June, nurses filed complaints with the Illinois Department of Health charging UCMC failed to provide adequate staffing levels in accordance with state law. The nurses also a filed complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration charging the hospital is failing to keep appropriate records on how injuries in the hospital occur. OSHA and the Illinois Department of Health are investigating.

National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United represents nearly 2,300 nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

National Nurses Organizing Committee is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest organization of registered nurses in the United States with 150,000 members.