Press Release

One-Day Strike by Watsonville RNs Tuesday Nurses Cite Hospital's Refusal to Fix Poor Staffing

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2010

Watsonville Community Hospital registered nurses will begin a one-day strike tomorrow morning, Tuesday, October 26 to protest serious staffing problems that the one-time community hospital, now part of a mega corporate hospital chain, refuses to address, they say.

Nurses will be on the picket line at 6:45 a.m., and hold a noon rally with community supporters. They will return to work Wednesday morning. The 300 RNs who are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, will have a patient care task force available to assist in the hospital in the event of genuine patient emergencies.

What:       One-day RN strike
When:      Picketing begins at 6:45 a.m.
                  Rally at 12 noon
Where:     75 Nielsen St., Watsonville
                  (corner, Nielson St. and Airport Blvd.)

Inadequate and often unsafe staffing – and the hospital’s refusal to address RN proposals to improve patient safety – are at the center of the dispute. The RNs have criticized hospital management for its failure to provide break relief for nurses, improve staffing in pediatric care and other hospital units, and its reduction of support staff for the RNs.  

In comments to the media in recent days, Watsonville RNs have emphasized these problems.

"It's just gotten really difficult to do our jobs, people aren't getting fed, people aren't getting turned, we're having more bed sores and people aren't getting bathed as often as I feel they should be," Roxanne Heisinger, RN told local TV station KION.

Tim Thomas, RN, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel that staffing is so inadequate that at times there are too few people to feed patients or to turn them in bed. He said nurses also have been injured trying to lift patients without help."Those are the kinds of situations for which we would like to see remedies in place to ensure a certain level of care" Thomas said.

RNs note the intransigence by management has grown substantially since the former community hospital was acquired by Tennessee-based Community Health System, the largest and one of the most profitable, publicly traded hospital systems in the U.S.  CHS is in conflict with its nurses from California to Pennsylvania for reducing patient services and seeking to lower standards for nurses and other caregivers, and with communities for failing to meet its commitments to maintain or expand facilities and services.