Seton graduate nurses authorize strike
RNs cite patient safety issues and AHMC’s failure to address staffing and supply crises
Registered nurses at AHMC Seton Medical Center (Seton) in Daly City, Calif., voted to authorize a strike in response to the hospital owner’s failure to address critical and ongoing patient care issues and to the closure of vital services, the California Nurses Association announced today. The nurses staged a one-day strike in March this year.
“The last thing we want to do is go on strike. We love our patients, our hospital and our community, but AHMC has let us all down and we need to bring attention to these critical concerns before it’s too late,” said Seton RN Michelle Kubota. . “Since AHMC took over, we have lost over 80 nurses and continue to lose more every week. Nurses have sacrificed for nearly 10 years to keep Seton open and we are living through the toughest health care crisis in recent history. We show up to work and try to do our best despite dangerous staff, a lack of supplies and untenable working conditions. We are exhausted and have suffered serious moral damage. It’s too much for some nurses and they leave.
The nurses have been in contract negotiations with the AHMC since December 2021. But the nurses accuse AHMC management of obstructing any progress by refusing to address nurses’ concerns and canceling scheduled meetings at the last minute.
Additionally, Seton closed two hospital units that serve vulnerable elderly patients in Northern California. In March, AHMC permanently closed its skilled nursing facility which provided essential care to elderly and other patients who could not return home and still needed some level of nursing care. Many of these patients have been transferred to another unit 30 miles away, placing an additional burden on family and friends visiting and supporting loved ones.
In May, AHMC abruptly closed the Geriatric Psychiatry Unit, one of the few in the state providing highly skilled psychiatric care to geriatric patients suffering from mental health crises. This unit accepts patients from as far away as San Luis Obispo and Yuba counties. The unit has won awards and is a valuable source of revenue for the hospital. Management says the unit is expected to reopen in six months, but nurses say those patients should have been moved to vacant space in the hospital while earthquake repairs are carried out.
AHMC continues to fail to staff units appropriately, which has led to increased falls and delays in patient care. On the Covid unit, nurses are reporting an increase in falls due to lack of support staff and management forcing charge nurses (who are meant to facilitate workflow and be a resource on a unit) to take on direct assignments to patients. Nurses report that lab delays due to understaffing kept patients in hospital longer than necessary, including one patient who was kept an extra night.
RNs report that units often do not meet safety staffing ratios and there is a persistent lack of supplies, including oxygen, surgical supplies, wipes, diapers and other bed covers. .
“We are working hard to find supplies for patients, answer family questions about loved ones, while caring for more patients than required by California staffing laws,” said Osha Atogwe. , a registered nurse.
If no progress is made in negotiations, the nurses will give the hospital 10 days’ notice to strike before any scheduled strike date.
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the nation’s largest and fastest growing union and professional association for registered nurses with 100,000 members at more than 200 facilities across California and more than 175,000 AI nationwide.