Sutter Health nurses walk out
October 10, 2007 3:21 PM
Nurses picketed on Wednesday at 7 a.m. in front of the California Pacific Medical Center on California Street in San Francisco to send a message to Sutter Health. “We want a contract now!” the nurses shouted as buses and cars passed by honking for support.
The nurses’ strike affects 15 hospitals in Northern California in the Sutter Health group, many of which are in the Bay Area with two in San Francisco.
Over 5,000 nurses are expected to strike in one of the biggest nurses strike in California in a decade according to the California Nurses Association.
SF State student Katy Roemer who is getting her masters degree to become a clinical nurse specialist said she supports them all the way. “I am a currently a registered nurse and have been part of a walk out so I understand what the nurses are going through,” Roemer said.
The California Nurses Association, the union for the Sutter Health nurses, has been in meetings with Sutter Health since April to negotiate a contract. There have been 18 meetings with no resolution.
“None of our patient care proposals were never addressed in any of the meetings,” Jonica Brooks, a registered nurse at California Pacific Medical Center, said. “When we have breaks, we want to make sure there are enough nurses to watch our patients.”
Some of the issues that have not been resolved include nurse to patient ratio, break relief, rapid response to patients and safe patient handling.
“We are the point where we can’t take a break or get any type of relief. If we take a break then no one would be able to watch our patients since all the other nurses already have a heavy load,” said Janet Dunlap, a registered nurse at California Pacific Medical Center.
Other issues mentioned in the negotiations that stalled the process included a reduction in health benefits and retirement security for the nurses.
Kevin McCormack, media relations manager for California Pacific Medical Center said the strike was not about patient care. “The union is being aggressive trying to get nurses to join the union,” McCormack said. “Our patient care is exemplary and one of the best in California.”
Besides the California Pacific Medical Center, nurses walked out at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco.
“Almost every nurse tends to be unhealthy because of the lack of sleep and time to ear,” said Katherine Schoen, a registered nurse at the SF State Student Health Services. “I worked at some of the Sutter Health hospitals during my rotations and the nurses were overworked said,” Schoen.
The strike will last until Friday at 7 a.m. “We hope we can get back in and negotiate a contract soon,” Brooks said.
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