Press Release

San Bernardino County Nurses To Picket Board of Supervisors Meeting Tuesday

RNs protest unsafe patient care conditions

San Bernardino County registered nurses from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), the county detention centers, juvenile halls, outpatient clinics, and public health programs will hold an informational picket on Tuesday, September 9, to call attention to what they view as unsafe conditions for their patients and a lack of response in negotiations by county officials.
What:                 San Bernardino County RNs Informational Picket
When:                Tuesday, September 9, 2014 8:30 a.m.– 9:30 a.m.
Where:               San Bernardino County Government Center
                           385 North Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents approximately 1,300 RNs in San Bernardino County who have been trying to negotiate an agreement for more than eight months with little progress on key issues of patient safety. Despite a current budget surplus, the county is proposing to cut standards that took decades to secure, according the nurses.

Issues include forcing RNs to work in units outside their area of expertise (referred to as floating) and unsafe and inadequate RN-to patient staffing, causing nurses to frequently work without the ability to take a break.  The county is also spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on temporary nurses when it would be more cost effective and better for patient care to hire qualified, permanent nursing staff.

The nurses are also protesting a wage proposal that will contribute to RN salaries remaining well below other comparable area nurse salaries, which is having an adverse effect on their ability to recruit and retain qualified experienced RNs.
“RNs are routinely assigned an unsafe number of patients, in violation of state law,” said Toni Rodriguez, an emergency room night shift charge nurse.  “ARMC has one of the busiest emergency departments in the state, with an average of 340 new admissions and outpatient visits per day. The county has been slow in responding to proposals that would make it safer for patients, their families, and nurses delivering care at ARMC.”
“For months now, we have put forward proposals to county officials which address nurses’ concerns of unsafe staffing due, in part, to recruitment and retention issues, missed meals and breaks, and the lack of responsiveness from nursing administration to these concerns,” said Lieu Vo, a ARMC RN who works in the medical intensive care unit.
“We need patient safety provisions in our contract, similar to those that already exist in most California hospitals.  One such proposal would require the county to provide dedicated RN rapid response teams. These teams are immediately available and trained to recognize patients that are rapidly deteriorating and in need of emergent intervention.”