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California nurses begin 1-day strike

Over 6,000 registered nurses in California hold a one-day strike today December 22, 2011 to voice their concern over the erosion of quality of care and cuts to patient protections.

The strike affects 2,000 RNs at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, and 4,000 RNs who work at nine Bay Area facilities that are part of the Sutter Health corporation.

Long Beach RNs have been at odds with hospital management for months over assuring there is safe RN-to-patient staffing at all times, and over the hospital’s refusal to implement safe patient lift policies to prevent accidents to patients and injuries to nurses, despite enactment of a state law requiring such policy.

For the Sutter hospitals, nurses will be striking to protest some 150 demands for major contract concessions in patient protections and health coverage for the RNs and their families. Sutter this week refused to respond to an offer by the nurses to call off the strike if the corporation withdrew its concession demands.

“Sutter’s proposal to eliminate charge nurses threatens high-quality patient care and our ability to maintain patient safety and patient advocacy,” said Teresa Mullen, a charge nurse at the Oakland campus of Alta Bates Summit.

Sutter’s proposal to eliminate sick leave will force nurses to come to work sick which will further jeopardize our fragile patients, “ said Hebron Viray, oncology RN at Alta Bates’ Berkeley campus.

Additionally, RNs will also continue their protest against Sutter’s slash and burn reductions of patient services throughout Northern California. Sutter has targeted hospitals serving more low income patients in San Francisco and San Leandro for full or partial closures, and carried out huge reductions in patient services it deems less profitable, regardless of the impact on patients, especially mental health services, women’s health care, pediatric care, rehab services, and dialysis care.

Sutter is also notorious for skimping on charity care, despite its great wealth. A recent report by the University of California Hastings College of Law on Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center found that Sutter spends far less on charity care than other private hospitals in San Francisco, despite being the city’s most profitable private hospital.

Press Release by National Nurses United in California.

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