Some 4,500 RNs at 11 San Francisco Bay area hospitals—including 10 Sutter Health facilities—are holding a one-day strike today to dramatize the highly profitable health care chain’s demand for more than 100 sweeping reductions in patient care, community health services and nurse 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 gives 21 top executives $1 million or more a year. Genel Morgan, an RN at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame, Calif., says:
Sutter continues to cut services and take short cuts with patient care just so they can maximize CEO wealth. At the same time they have proposed unprecedented cuts in nurses’ sick leave and health care benefits. We will continue to fight for ourselves and be the last line of defense for our patients.
The nurses are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). Joining the nurses are several hundred X-ray, respiratory and other technicians. Nurses at Petaluma Valley Hospital, part of the St. Joseph Hospital System also are protesting concession demands that threaten patient care.
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.
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.
CNA co-President Zenei Cortez says:
It’s time for Sutter to stop acting like Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan West. It’s time for Sutter to stop its scorched earth policy of cuts in patient services while seeking to erode living standards for the people our communities count on to care for them when they are sick and vulnerable. Nurses will continue to resist this Wall Street agenda, no matter how long it takes.