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Sutter Nurses Set 1-Day Strike for Patient Care

National Nurses United photo.

Some 4,500 RNs at eight Sutter Health hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area will hold a one-day strike May 1 to dramatize the highly profitable health care chain’s demand for more than 100 sweeping reductions in patient care and nurses’ standards and workplace conditions.

Sutter Health has made $4.2 billion in profits over the past five years, pays its CEO $4 million a year after a 215 percent raise and pays 21 top executives $1 million or more a year. California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) says Sutter Health is demanding:

  • Elimination of paid sick leave, effectively forcing nurses to work when ill, exposing already frail and vulnerable patients to further infection;
  • RNs work in hospital areas for which they do not have appropriate clinical expertise, again a safety risk for patients;
  • Limits on the ability of charge nurses, who make clinical assignments for nurses, to address staffing shortages, subjecting patients to the danger of unsafe staffing;
  • RNs work mandatory overtime, exposing patients to care from fatigued nurses who are more prone to making medical errors.

Amy Black, an RN at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, says:

The Medical Center is attempting to take away sick leave, vacation time and education time, which effectively forces me to come to work sick, stressed and not up to date on the latest advancements of my profession.

Concurrently, Sutter Health continues to make substantial cuts in patient services throughout the region, especially in areas it considers inadequately profitable, such as mental health, cancer screening and services for women, children and seniors. Says CNA/NNU Co-President Zenei Cortez, RN:

Sutter has passed the stage of "too big to fail," going to "too big to care." They have shown they are far more interested in amassing wealth than caring about community health or the nurses who provide care for the patients who are the base of Sutter’s huge profits. Sutter RNs will never accept a reduced voice to speak out for patients, or an erosion in their own standards.

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