Registered nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, Calif. will hold a candlelight vigil Thursday, Feb. 13, to highlight their deep concerns about chronic understaffing and retaliation against nurses who advocate for their patients, announced California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU) today.
“We love our patients and our community,” said Maria Altamirano, RN and chief nurse representative at Antelope Valley Hospital. “But patients are put at risk if nurses cannot take a break during their 12-hour shift or must work up to 20 hours straight because of short staffing.”
What: Candlelight Vigil for Patient Safety and a Fair Contract
When: Thursday, Feb. 13, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Antelope Valley Hospital, 1600 W. Ave. J, Lancaster, Calif. 93534 – at the intersection of W. Ave. and 15th St. W.
Nurses have met with Antelope Valley Hospital CEO Edward Mirzabegian and vice president of operations Nana Deeb on multiple occasions and spoken out at the public board of directors meeting on Jan. 29 to address the nearly 200 reports of understaffing that occurred during the height of the 2019-2020 flu season.
Nurses have been in contract negotiations with management since November 2019.
Nurses have also raised concern over the rising number of violent attacks on hospital staff, especially mental health nurses. “When proper staffing is neglected, care becomes delayed and patients and nurses suffer,” said Altamirano, RN. “We have seen nurses physically attacked – choked and knocked unconscious, leading to long-term neurological problems and PTSD.”
According to reports from CNA/NNU, understaffing is the number one underlying factor leading to violent attacks on nurses. Antelope Valley nurses have advocated for a workplace violence plan and committee during ongoing contract negotiations, as required by state law, but say the hospital’s plan falls short of state requirements.
To facilitate compliance with California’s mandatory RN-to-Patient staffing ratio law and labor law, nurses have advocated for staffing levels that provide proper break coverage and vital nursing support to address patient needs, 24/7. “Proper break coverage is absolutely vital,” says Ruth Godde, RN and a member of the bargaining team. “Nurses who are staffed to cover breaks or provide an extra resource are constantly asked to stay past their regular shift, or are pulled to assist the understaffed floor.”
Nurses are demanding the following:
Staffing levels that put patients first by providing proper break and resource coverage throughout the hospital on every shift
A respectful environment that values nurses’ vital service to the community
An end to the punitive retaliation against nurses who advocate for their patients
A Workplace Violence Plan and Committee that protects nurses and patients from violent attacks in the workplace
CNA/NNU represents 950 nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital.
The California Nurses Association has 100,000 members and is a founding member of National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with more than 150,000 membersnationwide. CNA/NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease, and workplace violence prevention.