Research Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center nurses rally to protest HCA’s failure to address chronic patient safety issue
Nurses cite loss of experienced nurses, broken equipment, and acute understaffing
Nurses from HCA’s Research Medical Center (Research) in Kansas City, Mo., and Menorah Medical Center (Menorah) in Overland Park, Mo., will hold a rally on Tuesday, June 14 at Research Medical Center to protest HCA’s failure to address chronic understaffing, the loss of experienced nurses, and a battery of persistent broken equipment problems, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.
“We want our community, our patients, to know we work hard to be here when you need us,” said Mary Ralston, a float pool RN at Menorah with 42 years of experience. “But, shift after shift, HCA is requiring us to care for too many patients at one time, this causes longer wait times when you are vulnerable and need our expert care. These conditions break our hearts and it's causing nurses to quit in record numbers. We are calling on HCA to schedule more nurses per shift, every shift, and stop creating this nursing shortage at the bedside. Our patients need us.”
- What: Rally to hold HCA accountable for safe patient care
- Who: Nurses from Research Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center
- When: Tuesday June 14, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
- Where: Research Medical Center, 2316 E. Meyer Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., on the sidewalk by Meyer Blvd.
The RNs say HCA is understaffing units throughout the hospital, which forces nurses to care for more patients than is optimal. Staffing is particularly bad in the intensive care unit (ICU). Because ICU patients require such constant attention and their medical needs are very high, nurses in ICU should never have more than two patients. For the sickest trauma and ICU patients, the RN-to-patient staffing ratio should be one nurse to one patient. However, HCA is often forcing ICU nurses to care for three patients at once, including very sick trauma patients.
Since January 2021 through the end of May 2022, 482 nurses have left Research, while HCA has only hired 254 replacements. During that same time period, 189 nurses have left Menorah and only 120 have been hired. Not only are there far too few nurses working full time, but many of these new hires are newly graduated nurses who need mentorship from experienced RNs.
Right now at Menorah and Research, there are more recently graduated nurses with less than one year’s experience working in the ICU, than there are experienced nurses able to train them.
“We are so pleased when a new nurse comes to work with us, and we can help mentor their growth in the profession and learn how to provide the best care possible,” said Leslie Rogers, a registered nurse at Research with 49 years of experience. “But every time we see an experienced nurse leave the hospital we lose a valuable resource who can mentor the younger nurses and someone who has the experience to handle difficult situations as they arise. It is not fair to ask our newer nurses to train other new nurses. HCA must do everything possible to recruit and retain experienced nurses.”
In addition, equipment, including such basics as plumbing, frequently goes unrepaired for long periods of time. Recently, after the plumbing in the surgical intensive care unit backed up sending sewage into a patient area, management failed to repair the issue and it remains broken at this writing, nine days after it was reported. Also, patient medication scanners, which provide a vital safety verification when nurses administer medications, are constantly broken.
“The persistent understaffing coupled with the malfunctioning equipment make it exceedingly difficult to care for our patients in the way we want to,” said Leslie Remington, an ICU nurse at Research with 30 years of experience. “Because of these terrible conditions we are seeing many of our most experienced nurses leave our hospital and go elsewhere. Nurses get into nursing to care for, educate, and support our patients. We can not do that when we are constantly running from room to room, putting out fires and caring for too many patients. When nurses suffer moral distress because HCA has made it too difficult to do a job they can feel proud of, they leave our hospital, or even worse, the bedside.”
Research and Menorah are owned by HCA, the largest hospital system in the United States. Last year, HCA posted a profit of $6.9 billion.
“When lifesaving monitoring equipment in our ICU stays broken for months and with nurses quitting in record numbers from these hospitals, as nurses in this community, we say it's overdue for HCA to put patients before profits,” said Cheryl Rodarmel, a rehabilitation registered nurse at Research Medical Center.
National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) represents nearly 1,000 nurses at Research Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center.
National Nurses Organizing Committee is a national union and professional organization for registered nurses, advance practice nurses, and RN organizations who want to pursue a more powerful agenda of advocacy, promoting the interests of patients, direct care nurses, and RN professional practice. NNOC is affiliated with National Nurses United.
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 more than 175,000 members nationwide.