Tri-City nurses to hold informational picket today for staffing issues

Tri-City Nurses Hold Information Picket Today
Cite Concerns Over Staffing Issues


Citing concern over staffing issues, Tri-City Medical Center (TCMC), registered nurses will hold an informational picket on Wednesday, Jan. 11, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.

According to TCMC nurses, the emergency department and other hospital units are experiencing systemic levels of unsafe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, an issue that nurses, backed by countless studies, say put patients’ lives at risk.

“We often have to close critical departments because of a lack of RN staff. We are asking that TCMC administration invest in recruiting and retaining registered nurses”, said Brenda Tavares Ham, an RN with TCMC for 30 years.

What: TCMC nurses and community members hold informational picket
When: Today, Wednesday, Jan. 11; 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Tri-City Medical Center, 4002 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA

The hospital’s nurses are public sector employees who work for the Tri-City Healthcare District and have been in protracted contract negotiations to settle staffing and other working conditions concerns since last summer. Nurses say it is their duty to speak out publicly.

TCMC’s Emergency Department (ED) has seen a rapid increase in patient volume in recent years, nurses say.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Day, RNs say the administration knew the ED would be short staffed by 11 RNs and seven RNs respectively, creating a dangerous environment for nurses and patients alike.

Yet RNs say that hospital management has failed to address staffing with a plan that keeps to statewide mandatory ratios and takes into account the acuity (severity of illness) of patients. The administration’s failure to act, resulted in long wait times in the ED for the community and the closing of beds.

Outside of the ED, nurses say management has drastically cut necessary support staff and failed to replace them, leaving nurses overwhelmed.  The use of a resource pool of nurses was eliminated by the hospital and that has added to the crisis in staffing. Nurses point out that breaks and mealtimes are often nearly impossible due to the staffing crisis.

TCMC nurses say that patient safety is paramount. The Behavioral Unit at TCMC only has one mental health worker assigned for up to 18 patients, jeopardizing the health of nurses, patients and care workers alike. Retention of the most experienced staff has suffered, because of these conditions. RNs say that the hospital’s poor working conditions are driving away the kind of longtime, highly skilled nurses that patients in the community deserve.

Nurses cited equipment that was requested one year ago has still not arrived on the units, outdated computers are ineffective or defective and waste critical time that could be spent on patient care.

“There has been a recent exodus of RNs from TCMC. Many were concerned about their personal safety due to lack of security and recent acts of violence where RNs were assaulted on the job,” said Cathy Cronce the Chair of the Professional Practice Committee of RNs at TCMC. “Many more nurses, some with 10 to 15 years of service, are talking about leaving.

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