Press Release

Redding nurses and health care workers to protest Shasta Regional Medical Center’s safe staffing law violations

Nurses holding signs that read "Safe staffing Saves Lives"

Prime Healthcare’s proposed staffing scheme jeopardizes patient care.

Registered nurses and health care workers at Prime Healthcare’s Shasta Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Redding, Calif., will picket on Tuesday, Oct. 24, to protest management’s proposed staffing scheme because it violates California’s safe staffing law and jeopardizes patient care, announced California Nurses Association (CNA) and Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU) today. 

CHEU members include pharmacy, radiology, and lab technicians as well as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and environmental services workers. CNA represents registered nurses (RNs).

Chronic short staffing has been a longstanding issue at SRMC and there has been an increase in patient falls, delays in care, and missed care as well as an increase in workplace violence injuries. Prime Healthcare will make the situation far worse by implementing a staffing scheme at the end of the month that requires RNs on all floors, except the intensive care unit, to be responsible for 10 patients — double the state’s RN-to-patient ratios law — by assigning RNs to provide direct care for five patients and to oversee the care of five additional patients and LVNs.

“This is a flagrant violation of the state’s safe staffing law and is dangerous for patients,” said Michelle Gaffney, ICU RN. “It is unconscionable for Prime Healthcare to double the number of patients we have to care for plus supervise the work of LVNs who are helping to care for these additional patients. This staffing change is irresponsible and puts patients and our nursing licenses at risk.”

Who: Registered nurses and health care workers at Prime Healthcare’s Shasta Regional Hospital
What: Informational picket for patient safety
When: Tuesday, Oct. 24, 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Where: Shasta Regional Medical Center, 1100 Butte St., Redding, Calif. (Hospital Entrance)

RNs and LVNs in the medical/surgical, orthopedic/neurology, and telemetry departments will be affected by this staffing change. The state’s RN-to-patient ratios law states that RNs in medical/surgical units have a minimum of one nurse to five patients and the telemetry and ortho/neuro units each have a minimum one nurse to four patients. When a nurse’s patient assignment includes very sick patients, their patient load should decrease because those patients require more care. The emergency room is already assigning LVNs to care for very sick patients, including ICU patients, which is outside of their scope of practice and puts their licenses in jeopardy. This is dangerous for patients, LVNs, and RNs.

The RNs and health care workers are fighting for improvements in staffing, particularly recruitment and retention, and demanding that Prime Healthcare stop violating California’s nurse-to-patient ratios law. The RNs have filled out more than 200 Assignment Despite Objections forms this year to document unsafe staffing. 

“The health care workers and RNs at Shasta Regional Medical Center want to provide the best care possible and will continue to fight to achieve that goal,” said Rosie Boyd, CHEU Chief Steward and pharmacy technician.

The medical/surgical unit has been closed for months and those nurses have been forced to work on the telemetry floor, even though they have limited experience with telemetry patients. Prime Healthcare only offered limited and inadequate training. This year inspectors with the California Department of Public Health have substantiated at least 34 complaints regarding SRMC staffing.

“We care about our community and that’s why we are speaking out,” said Michelle Gaffney, RN. “Research proves that our safe staffing law results in better patient outcomes and a decrease in mortality. The people in Redding deserve to have the same standards of nursing care that other California residents enjoy. Prime Healthcare will drive more nurses away from the profession by violating the RN-to-patients ratios law.”

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing shows that, in California and across the country, there is no nurse “shortage.” In fact, in California, there are more than 172,000 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 on the nursing “shortage” myth can be found here.

CNA/CHEU represents approximately 600 RNs and health care workers at Shasta Regional Medical Center. 

Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU) is an affiliate of California Nurses Association. CNA has 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and is an affiliate of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union of registered nurses in the nation with nearly 225,000 RNs nationwide.