Registered nurses at Seton announce two-day strike
RNs cite patient safety concerns, shuttering of vital services, and failure of AHMC to address staffing and supply crises
Registered nurses at AHMC Seton Medical Center (Seton) in Daly City, Calif. issued a ten-day notice to AHMC to inform that hospital that they intend to hold a two-day strike on June 22 and June 23 in response to the hospital’s failure to address critical and persistent patient care issues, chronic supply problems, the shuttering of vital services as well as the failure of management to consistently attend scheduled bargaining sessions announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today.
“I have worked at Seton for 22 years and enough is enough,” said Michelle Kubota, a registered nurse in the medical surgical unit. “As a nurse I have a duty to advocate for my patients. As the hospital administration has refused to respond to our concerns, we feel as if we have no other option than to strike. The management at our hospital is failing our patients by failing to value and respect the nurses. We are working without proper supplies, without appropriate staff, and nurses are being asked to do two or more jobs at once. Everytime we have to search for supplies, or are forced to take on additional duties, we are taken away from our most important duty, that of caring for our patients. Our patients deserve far better.”
- What: AHMC Seton Medical Center nurses issue notice for two-day strike
- When: June 22-23, 2022
- Where: AHMC Seton Medical Center
1900 Sullivan Ave, Daly City, Calif.
“We are seeing experienced nurses leave our hospital after decades of service to our community,” said Emily Toaitiiti, a registered nurse who has worked at Seton for 21 years. “We have new nurses doing their best to train new nurses, but that is not fair to either nurse and certainly not optimal for our patients. We need to do everything we can to retain and recruit experienced nurses who can help mentor our younger nurses and who are committed to staying at our hospital and fighting to ensure that our patients get the highest quality of care.”
Nurses have been in contract negotiations with AHMC since December 2021. In March of this year, the nurses held a one-day strike. Despite the action, AHMC management is impeding any real progress by refusing to address the nurses’ concerns and by canceling scheduled meetings at the last minute.
Further fomenting the nurses’ decision to strike is that Seton has closed two hospital units which serve vulnerable elderly patients from across Northern California. In March, AHMC permanently shuttered its skilled nursing facility that provided essential care to elderly and other patients who were unable to be discharged and still need a certain level of nursing care. Many of these patients were transferred to another unit 30 miles away, which places an additional burden on family and friends who visit and support their loved ones.
In May, AHMC abruptly closed down the geriatric psychiatric unit, one of very few in the state that provides highly skilled psychiatric care to geriatric patients suffering mental health crises. This unit accepts patients from as far away as San Luis Obispo and Yuba counties. The unit has won awards and is a valuable revenue source for the hospital. Management says the unit should reopen in six months, but nurses say these patients should have been relocated to vacant space at the hospital while seismic repairs are made.
AHMC continually fails to staff units appropriately, which has led to an increase in falls and patient care delays. In the Covid unit, nurses report an increase in falls due to lack of ancillary staff and management forcing charge nurses (who are meant to facilitate workflow and be a resource on a unit) to take on direct patient assignments. Nurses report that delays in labs due to a lack of staff have kept patients in the hospital longer than necessary, including one patient who was kept an additional night.
RNs report that units are often out of compliance with safe-staffing ratios, and there is a persistent lack of supplies including oxygen, surgery supplies, wipes, diapers, bed pads, and clean linens.
“Recently, I could not find any clean linens but I needed to get my patient a bed,” said Jason Lo, an emergency room nurse. “I improvised and covered the bed with disposable bed pads. The patient looked at me like I was crazy, and I apologized. But what else could I do? We should never be in a position where we don’t have simple supplies such as clean linens. We have a responsibility to take care of our patients and provide the highest quality of care. But how can we do that when the hospital fails to uphold its responsibility to provide us the resources we need to do that job?”
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and more than 175,000 RNs nationwide.