Hospital Says It’s Working to Resolve Staffing Issues Ahead of Nurse Pickets

City News Service

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – A spokesman for Desert Regional Medical Center
conceded today the hospital has been dealing with staffing issues, but the
facility is “exercising all options” to bolster its ranks and is committed to
reaching a labor agreement with unionized nurses.

Registered nurses at the hospital and eight other medical centers are
planning to hold pickets Wednesday to raise concerns about what they call
chronic under-staffing and high turnover rates at the Tenet Healthcare Corp.
facilities.

Richard Ramhoff, the group marketing director at Desert Regional
Medical Center, said Tenet is negotiating with the union and 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,” Ramhoff said. “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.”

Tenet Healthcare is a multinational company based in Dallas that
operates 65 hospitals and more than 450 healthcare facilities.

On Wednesday, nurses represented by the California Nurses
Association/National Nurses United plan to hold informational pickets at Desert
Regional Medical Center and Tenet hospitals in Joshua Tree, Los Alamitos,
Manteca, Modesto, San Luis Obispo, San Ramon, Templeton and Turlock. The union
represents about 3,700 RNs at the facilities.

The informational picket at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm
Springs will begin at 8 a.m. and the one at Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua
Tree will begin at noon.

“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, a registered nurse at Desert Regional Medical
Center in Palm Springs, said in a statement released by the union.

Union officials say Desert Regional Medical Center lost 137 nurses
since the COVID-19 pandemic started, claiming that a high percentage of nurses
who were hired between 2019 and 2021 quit due to unsustainable workplace
conditions.

The unions also accuse Tenet hospitals of mishandling rest and meal
breaks and opting to pay nurses penalty wages to sacrifice their breaks instead
of hiring more nurses.

Intensive care unit nurses had assignments of up to four patients when
the state’s safe staffing ratios laws state that they should have a maximum
of two patients, under Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations,
according to union representatives. They also claimed that telemetry unit
nurses had assignments of up to six patients when they should have a maximum of
four patients.

Registered nurses are demanding that Tenet hospitals hire more nurses,
Bruce said.

“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,” Bruce said.

Hospital officials said the facilities will operate normally during
the pickets.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-04-26-2022 11:15

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