Nurses In Torrance Protest Working Conditions At Their Hospital
UPDATE: Nurses won the contract language that they wanted and voted to approve the contract on June 4 by 94%. The contract now allows union nurses on the frontlines to create an infectious disease task force to address issues around COVID-19 and to be compensated for the time spent on that task force.
PREVIOUSLY: About 30 registered nurses in Torrance protested in front of their hospital, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Wednesday morning to demand greater protections during the pandemic.
Their demands include: greater transparency from management about PPE supply levels, an increase in staffing for all units of the hospital and a seat at the table on the hospital's infectious disease task force, among other things. The protest came as the nurses continued negotiation talks for their latest contract.
“We’re asking for better staffing because of how quickly some of these COVID-19 patients can suddenly become brittle and head downhill,” said Roseann Devlin, a nurse who joined the protest. “We’re working 12-hour shifts. We should have break nurses, so we can take our 30-minute lunch breaks and know our patients’ needs are being met.”
Devlin added that it also takes time for nurses to take their PPE on and off and sanitize it properly, which means even more time away from patients with no one to sub in for them.
To help address these concerns and those that may come up in the future, Devlin said nurses need a seat at the table where decisions are being made.
“Having a nurse who works with COVID-19 patients participate in the hospital’s infectious disease task force would create transparency,” she said. “You can have administrators at the top making decisions, but it doesn’t always translate to changes in the real world of nursing.”
In response to today’s protest, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center issued the following statement:
“We do not know why this action is taking place, as forming a pandemic task force is an active issue in negotiations. The hospital has a well established and very effective infection control committee that addresses all types of communicable disease, an existing process applicable to the current pandemic. Although we believe our current process functions effectively and is in line with industry standards, we are willing to discuss the nurses’ concerns."
A representative from the hospital also made an appearance at the protest today to speak with a nurse on the bargaining team.
The California Nurses Association, which represents the nurses, says they hope to work with the hospital to reach an agreement on contracts in the coming weeks.
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