The nurses at the Desert Regional Medical Center voted in favor to strike after months of stalled negotiations between the hospital and its registered nurses.
Kelli Lam is an overnight nurse at the intensive care unit, she cares for the sickest people in the hospital, and she said the potential strike is in demand for better work hours and pay.
Lam said, “If a nurse is on call for 24hours for 36 hours straight how are they actually expected to go in and take care of patients to the best of their ability.”
She said some of the hospital’s departments make it mandatory for its nurses to be on-call. The nurses said the on-call hourly pay is $5 and it prevents them from having a complete day off from work.
Lam said, “On-call pay, patient safety, quality of care all of these things that should be standard but these are the things that we’re willing to strict over.”
Lam was a part of a nurse’s informational picketing in front of the hospital earlier in May, she said the negotiations between the union and the hospital have not given them results and therefore decided to terminate their contracts.
Tenet Health issued a response, it said,
“We are in receipt of the California Nurses Association’s 30 day termination notice, and while we are disappointed in their approach, we are continuing to negotiate in good faith in an effort to reach agreement on a new contract. Our goal is to focus on providing the best care possible, and we believe the California Nurses Association will work with us to achieve this objective, which is in the best interest of our patients. In the event that we are unable to reach an agreement, we do have contingency plans in place so that our patients continue to receive quality care, and our hospital will remain fully operational.”
Lam said lunch breaks are often violated but she believes the workplace could improve with better employee retention along with a new and better work agreement.
Lam said, “If we can’t keep nurses, that means that they are going to leave we have to be on call more, we have to be called-in more and we have to work longer hours, if we have to work longer hours what is the quality of the nurse taking care of the sickest people in the hospital.”
The nurses could decide to go on strike as soon as early September.