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Patient Dies During Lockout in CA Nurses’ Strike

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 26, 2011

As further evidence to make their case that Sutter allowed quality of care to lapse, the CNA statement said that on Friday, a registered nurse at Alta Bates Summit "returned to work after an urgent notification from the hospital to CNA that it needed a nurse it had locked out who has specialized competency and expertise in caring for patients in need of complex procedures such as dialysis and pheresis."

The CNA is further questioning whether hospitals that call in replacement personnel assure their qualifications for the jobs they're assigned to perform, and are asking the California board of Registered Nursing to look into the licenses of the "strikebreaking nurses and the nurse supervisors" who worked during the strike and lockout.

"Failure to guarantee clinical competencies and not assuring proper certifications violate California law, and put patients at risk," said CNA Legislative Director Bonnie Castillo, RN.

In the California Hospital Association statement, Dauner said that when nurses call a strike, "hospitals cannot simply send their patients home and close the doors. Patients still need care, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The only option is for hospitals to hire temporary replacement nurses. The nurses union knows that hospitals must hire these temporary workers when they make permanent nurses walk picket lines.

"If the union believes the use of licensed replacement nurses is a threat to public safety, then why have they chosen to pursue a pattern of waging strikes on a routine basis?" Dauner asked.

He ended the statement saying that while the CHA "deeply regrets that this tragic situation occurred," he noted that "in many cases, full-time nurses in Northern California hospitals earn more than $150,000 per year."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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10 comments on "Patient Dies During Lockout in CA Nurses’ Strike"


Block RN (10/7/2011 at 4:36 PM)
The number and type of takeaways proposed by the hospital are unfair and outrageous. They are proposing elimination of all positions less than 4 days a week. There are many nurses working less than 4 or 5 days a week and their benefits are pro rated. Every nurse currently is required to work every other weekend until they have been employed for 15 years. Our previous contract allowed nurses to work every third weekend after 15 years of service and then eliminated the requirement after 20 years of service. Sutter wants every nurse, regardless of years of service, to work every other weekend. Sutter is proposing elimination of ALL sick pay, stating that SDI will kick in after the 8th day of illness. In addition they are proposing cutting back on maternity leave. They are proposing elimination of all 12 hour positions and cutting back on the hours that non-benefited nurses can work. They are proposing large cuts in hourly pay. These are just a few of the more than 72 takeaways that Sutter has offered us! It feels a bit more than trimming the fat. It appears to be more of a union busting technique as the number and type of takeaways are so over the top. Sutter Health, a not-for-profit hospital, in 2010 made a "surplus" of $878,000,000. Yes millions!! And this surplus was made by Alta Bates Summit Medical Center only, not all of the hospitals in the Sutter chain. This "surplus" was made while upholding our contract. The very same contract that we are trying to negotiate to keep now. Nothing new for us, just the same contract that still allowed the corporation to collect this huge "surplus". [Sutter executive] Pat Frey received a 43% raise and now makes at least 4 million dollars a year. Who knows how much more he will make when the figures for the 2011 "surplus" are in. Sutter donated 1 million dollars to keep the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento. This is not a corporation that seems to be in financial distress. The term CORPORATE GREED comes to my mind.

IR Nurse (9/27/2011 at 3:23 PM)
Doctors and Lawyers are compensated very nicely. Nurses unfortunately belong to Unions in order to protect themselves from corporate greed. You don't see these administrators given themselves cuts. No sir.... the buck is pass along down the line. THEY DON'T see nurses as professionals but as expendable labor force. They sing the bleeding song about compassion and pt safety and on and on when they only care about MONEY. HOW MUCH money they are going to get in bonuses and compensation. GET REAL!!!! I CAN READ BETWEEN THE LINES. DO NOT INSULT ME!!!

Al (9/27/2011 at 7:28 AM)
Advocating for patient safety by abandoning the patients under their care seems a misguided approach. The responsibility for this particular tragedy rests in hands of the nurses that walked away from their patients, forcing the hospital to seek substitute care-givers. For those hospitals that brought in nurses to care for their patients, what other options did they have besides letting the union dictate their management decisions? The nurses chose patient abandonment to stress the hospital to accept their position.