Nurses group to stage hospital walkout

More than 5,500 registered nurses at 13 Bay Area hospitals will strike Wednesday and Thursday to send a message they hope will lead to improved patient care and nurse treatment.

The two-day strike follows stalled negotiations since May between the California Nurses Association and respective hospitals, which operate under Sutter Health. A last-ditch mediation effort Friday failed to yield a contract, which is set to expire.

The walkout will feature more than 650 nurses at two San Francisco hospitals and more than 700 at two Peninsula facilities. Each facility has to individually negotiate a contract with its nurses.

Nurses make an average of $116,000 per year at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in San Mateo and Burlingame, said Dolores Gomez, vice president of Acute Care Services, who blames nurses for a lack of agreement.

But nurses say all they want is better patient care and nurse safety.

Their proposal includes better nurse-to-patient ratios, a lifting team for handling large patients to avoid nurse injuries, staff to help with paperwork and patient preparation, and increased lunch break relief. They also want better health care, retirement packages and the opportunity to evaluate managers.

Mills has not cut any health care or retirement packages, nor has it decreased any patient services, Gomez said. The CNA has denied negotiation opportunities the last few weeks and has stalled on a deal, Gomez said. Furthermore, Gomez said, the hospital operates under the state-mandated 5-to-1 patient-to-nurse ratio.

Still, nurses are unhappy and are looking to prove a point tomorrow by walking out.

Mills has a backup core of qualified nurses lined up to replace the staff during the two days, Gomez said, and picketing nurses will also be on call in case there is an emergency. Patients will see no difference in care during those two days, Gomez said.

Medical centers affected

» Mills-Peninsula Health Services (Burlingame, San Mateo)

» California Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco)

» St. Luke’s hospitals (San Francisco)

» Alta Bates Summit Medical Center (Berkeley, Oakland)

» Eden Medical Center (Castro Valley)

» San Leandro Hospital

» Sutter Santa Rosa

» Sutter Delta (Antioch)

» Sutter Solano (Vallejo)

» Sutter Marin General Hospital (Greenbrae)

» Sutter Novato

» Fremont-Rideout Health Group facilities (Marysville, Yuba City)

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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