RNs Call on Santa Clara County to Respect Patient, Nurse Rights in Takeover of O’Connor, St. Louise Hospitals
Registered nurses with the California Nurses Association (CNA) are holding a rally at the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18, calling on the County to respect patient care needs and nurses’ rights as it prepares to take over O’Connor Hospital in San Jose and St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy.
Santa Clara County is set to take over the two facilities after former owner Verity Health Care System (Verity) filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Nurses say it’s imperative, in the transfer, that these facilities remain open and continue to provide essential patient care services for local communities. It’s also critical, say nurses, that the County ensure current nurses at both facilities are offered positions under their current salaries and conditions of employment, given that anything less risks a loss of highly experienced caregivers most familiar with their communities’ needs.
“With the growing population, the county should only be thinking of expanding medical services, not depleting or minimizing any services available to our community. Therefore, they should keep all services open, maintain all available beds, and continue to staff with all the personnel currently working at both St. Louise and O’Connor,” said RN Cindy Little, who has worked at O’Connor for 15 years.
What: RN Rally at Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Where: County Building, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
When: Tuesday, December 18, 8:30 a.m.
“As a frontline nurse, my coworkers and I are privileged to live and work in our community and provide exceptional care at our community hospital,” said Christine Dixon, an RN at St. Louise Regional Hospital for 20 years. “St. Louise nurses wear many hats, requiring a vast nursing knowledge. We work together to provide the highest quality care to our patients and our community. As St. Louise Hospital nurses, we have committed ourselves to the community in which we live.”
In addition to O’Connor and St. Louise, Verity runs Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Seton Coastside in Moss Beach, St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles.
CNA, which represents 1,500 registered nurses at four Verity hospitals, in both Southern and Northern California, has already been campaigning to hold future prospective owners accountable for keeping to the core principles adopted by the nurses when they first learned of the transfer of control of the hospitals from Daughters of the Charity Health System in 2015.
Core principles defined by the registered nurses include:
- Continued operation of the hospitals
- Maintaining existing patient services and not taking actions that put those services at risk
- Preserving existing jobs, collective bargaining rights, and current labor standards
- Upholding pension promises made to current and future retirees
In addition, the nurses insist that future owners—including Santa Clara County, in the case of O’Connor and St. Louise—be held to the same conditions imposed by the former California attorney general in 2015 when control of the hospital chain was transferred to private equity firm BlueMountain Capital Management. The attorney general imposed the conditions “to ensure the continuity of essential health care services for vulnerable communities at the six health facilities.” Those conditions currently remain in place, and include:
- St. Francis, O’Connor, Saint Louise, and Seton Medical Center must operate as acute-care hospitals and offer emergency services until 2025.
- The six facilities must provide the same types and/or level of emergency and non-emergency medical services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries and maintain Medi-Cal managed care contracts at each of the facilities.
- Charity care for needy patients and community benefits must be provided at historical levels.
- Substantially all of the 7,000 jobs at the health facilities will continue with comparable salaries, wages, and job duties.