Press Release

Canceled - UC San Francisco nurses: Hospital industry attack on safe staffing puts lives of patients, nurses at risk

UCSF nursea hold sign "Safe Staffing Saves Lives"

*This press conference has been canceled*

Registered nurses at UC San Francisco will hold a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 23 to protest its use of the state waiver to circumvent RN-to-patient safe staffing standards, announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) today.

Nurses are urging UCSF administrators to staff for safe patient care, not to use the pandemic as an excuse to put patient safety at serious risk. On Friday, Dec. 18, UCSF became the first, and only, UC medical center to apply for these waivers when they submitted their application to California Department of Public Health (CDPH), without any communication to frontline staff and over the strong opposition from UCSF nurses.

What: UCSF nurses hold virtual press conference on the University’s attacks on safe staffing puts lives of patients, nurses, and healthcare workers at risk
When: Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020 at 11a.m.
Where: Virtual press conference

Under “expedited waivers,” hospitals can increase the workload of already overburdened nurses. By the mere submission of a form, hospitals can require nurses in intensive care units and throughout the hospital setting to unsafely care for more patients at one time.

“Rolling back safety standards will surely lead to more hospital-acquired infections, and put the lives of patients, registered nurses, and other health care workers at risk,” said CNA/NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN. “Instead of working with nurses to prepare, to plan, and to make sure they had the staffing in place before a massive wave hit, hospitals want to state and all Californians to bail them out from the crisis they themselves have created.”

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have been struggling to provide the highest quality of patient care without enough nurses on the floor to the do the work,” said Rebecca Arnold, a registered nurse in the hospital’s medical surgical unit. “For months we have been out of ratio in our medical-surgical units. On my unit, we take care of patients who have had spinal surgeries and are dealing with intense pain and mobility issues. The doctors want these patients up and moving to get their meals or go to the bathroom, but we struggle to get to them in a timely manner because there are simply not enough nurses. Our patients become frustrated and anxious when they have to wait to get medications or help to get out of bed. We have seen an increase in falls and unfortunately, medication errors as our caseloads are just too high. I have been at the hospital for 16 years, and I have never seen it like this.”

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen hospital units closed, nurses laid off, nurses called off shifts, and workplace conditions so dangerous that scores of nurses have left,” Cortez said. “Hospitals have left vacancies open while profit-generating elective procedures continued or started up again prematurely.”

California’s multi-billion hospital industry fought for more than a decade to block the state’s landmark safe staffing law, which went into effect in 2004, even though studies have shown the California law has resulted in up to 14 percent fewer patient deaths than in comparable hospitals, assured nurses more time to spend with patients, and kept nurses at the bedside.