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Tenet Health nurses call for additional hires, improved conditions

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Posted at 3:20 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 22:31:11-04

Tenet Health nurses across the state are picketing and planning public actions, calling for improved conditions and additional hires.

Locally, nurses were outside Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton and Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center Wednesday.

"For the past two years Tenet Healthcare has failed to prepare for the pandemic, prioritizing its profits over its responsibility to provide safe patient care," said Laura Bruce, RN, of Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs in a press release. "We demand that Tenet comply with state hospital staffing laws by taking immediate action to retain and recruit the staff we need to provide quality care. They have the resources!"

The California State Nurses Association says ICU nurses are being assigned patients beyond the number allowed under the California Code of Regulations.

"Due to the chronic understaffing, nurses have been working without meals and rest breaks. We know that this is bad for patients and nurses because it heightens the risk of workplace injuries and medical errors," said Maria Ibarra, RN, of Doctors Medical Center in Modesto in a press release. "Many experienced nurses have made the difficult choice to leave rather than jeopardizing their nursing license due to unsafe working conditions."

The California Nurses Association says “untenable working conditions” during the pandemic have driven away experienced nursing staff, saying that Twin Cities lost 40 percent of its nursing staff hired between 2019 and 2021.

The association says that instead of hiring more nurses, the hospitals are paying nurses penalty pay when skipping breaks, adding that penalty pay at Sierra Vista increased by more than 50 percent between 2020 and 2021.

Actions were held at a total of nine Tenet Health hospitals Wednesday.

Tenet Health Central Coast provided the following statement to KSBY:

The labor union that represents our Registered Nurses is engaged in union activity today outside our hospitals.  

Our hospitals are fully operational and our staffs’ focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care.

While we value all of our nurses who are represented by the union, we are disappointed that the union is taking this action. We are currently negotiating with the union, bargaining in good faith to reach an agreement.

Like many hospitals across the country, we have been facing staffing challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, and we remain committed to doing everything possible to stay well-staffed. To support our care teams, we have been exercising all options available to us. We are working with our staffing agency to bring traveler nurses onboard and we are continuously working to recruit additional nurses.

A nursing graduation ceremony and job fair took place at Sierra Vista Wednesday and hospitals officials say one is also planned for Thursday at Twin Cities.