RNs say concessions would set back nursing, patient care standards for decades
CALIFORNIA–(ENEWSPF)–November 13, 2012. Registered nurses at eight Sutter Health Bay Area hospitals and two HCA-affiliated hospitals in San Jose will strike on Tuesday, Nov. 20, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today. The strike will affect nearly 5,000 RNs.
Sutter nurses will strike for two days, Nov. 20 and 21. HCA RNs will hold a one-day strike.
At the Sutter hospitals, the walkout is in response to demands by Sutter corporate officials for sweeping reductions in patient care protections and nurses’ contract standards at these hospitals. The strike will involve about 3,300 RNs as well as several hundred respiratory, X-ray, and other technicians.
In San Jose, the key issues are hospital management’s rejection of the nurses’ proposals for improvements in safe staffing and other patient care conditions, as well as employer demands for significant cuts in RN retirement security and health coverage.
“Sutter has refused to bargain in good faith with its registered nurses and has continued to put patient care in jeopardy,” said Alta Bates Summit RN Millie Borland. “They have forced us to go on strike again in our fight to maintain our safe working conditions and our professional standards.”
San Jose nurses, said Regional Medical Center RN Dorothy Higgins, “are pushing back on what they view as an effort by hospital officials to erode standards in patient care and in the manner in which the hospital can compete for trained and experienced nurses in the area. Eliminating longstanding healthcare and pension benefits will have a direct impact on the quality of our hospital and our ability to recruit new RNs.”
“We will take job actions as necessary to protest Sutter’s unjust demands,” said Sutter Delta RN Melissa Thompson. “Sutter needs to stop scapegoating its nursing workforce, of almost all women, and stop blaming them for somehow preventing even greater profits for the corporation. Sutter’s targeting of women degrades our profession and erodes the patient care standards at the heart of our profession. We will not back down.”
Sutter hospitals affected by the two-day strike
- Alta Bates Summit, Berkeley, 2450 Ashby, Berkeley
- Alta Bates Summit, Herrick, 2001 Dwight, Berkeley
- Alta Bates Summit, Oakland, 350 Hawthorne, Oakland
- Eden Medical Center, 20103 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley
- Novato Community Hospital, 180 Rowland Way, Novato
- San Leandro Hospital, 13855 E. 14th Street, San Leandro
- Sutter Delta, Antioch, 3901 Lone Tree Way, Antioch
- Sutter Solano, Vallejo, 300 Hospital Drive, Vallejo
HCA-affiliated hospitals affected by the one-day strike
- Good Samaritan Hospital, 2425 Samaritan Drive, San Jose
- Regional Medical Center, 225 North Jackson Avenue, San Jose
Sutter Fact Sheet:
Sutter continues to demand well over 100 major concessions in patient care conditions and reductions in RN health coverage, longstanding benefits such as paid sick leave and education leave, and workplace rights and conditions. RNs are also protesting widespread cuts by Sutter in patient care services.
By contrast, officials at a number of Sutter hospitals, including Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo County, Sutter Santa Rosa, Sutter Lakeside in Lakeport, Sutter VNA of Santa Cruz, Sutter Roseville, and Sutter Auburn Faith have all reached agreement on new contracts with nurses after withdrawing concession demands.
Sutter does not need to make these drastic cuts
- Sutter has accumulated nearly $4.2 billion in profits since 2005, according to its own audited financial statements.
- Sutter is among the wealthiest hospital chains in the U.S. – and has the highest net patient revenue per employees among U.S. hospital systems, according to a Modern Healthcare survey
- Sutter paid 28 top executives more than $1 million in compensation, an aggregate $46.7 million in 2010 alone, by far the most lavish spending on executives among all California hospital systems.
- Sutter is presently building a massive new, 300,000-square foot administrative office center in Roseville, another sign of its expansive wealth, and spending away from the bedside.
- Sutter is spending tens of millions of dollars on a questionable computerized electronic medical system, Epic Systems, the same controversial system that has been charged with putting patients at risk at Contra Costa County’s correctional facility
Key concession demands at various Sutter hospitals (partial list):
- Eliminating paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection.
- Forcing RNs to work in hospital areas for which they do not have appropriate clinical expertise, again a safety risk for patients.
- Huge increases in nurses’ out-of-pocket costs for health coverage for themselves and family members.
- Limits on the ability of charge nurses, who make clinical assignments for nurses, to address staffing shortages, subjecting patients to the danger of unsafe staffing.
- Forcing RNs to work overtime, exposing patients to care from fatigued nurses who are more prone to making medical errors.
- Cutting the rest time between shifts to six hours, an unsafe precedent for patients and the hospital workforce.
- Eliminating all health coverage for nurses who work fewer than 30 hours per week and slashing pay in lieu of benefits for all non-benefited nurses.
- Reduced pregnancy and family medical leave, undermining RN families.
HCA Fact Sheet:
- Safe staffing at all times, including during admissions of new patients and when patients are being prepared for surgery, two serious holes that affect safe care.
- Charge nurse on every unit free of patient care assignment to allow full coordination of patient needs.
- Designated lift teams to safely move and transport patients without harm or injury to nurses and patients.
- Employer demands to eliminate a guaranteed, defined pension plan for RNs, and major cuts in healthcare, dental, and vision care benefits.
Nationally, HCA provides approximately 4 to 5 percent of all U.S. hospital services — one out of every 22 emergency room visits in the U.S. is to an HCA hospital. Revenues for the nine months ending Sept. 30, 2012 totaled $24.579 billion compared to $21.913 billion in the same period of 2011. Net income attributable to HCA Holdings, Inc. was $1.291 billion, or $2.81 per diluted share, compared to $530 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, for the first nine months of 2011.
On Oct. 23, 2012, the Board of Directors approved a special cash dividend of $2.50 per share to be paid to stockholders of record as of Nov. 2, 2012 with a payment date of Nov. 16, 2012. The dividend is expected to be funded through borrowings under the company’s credit facilities.