Burned and Tired: Nurses at California’s Leading Hospitals Prepare for Strike | Breastfeeding

ФFive thousand nurses at Stanford Children’s Hospital and Lucille Packard in Stanford, California, are preparing to strike in search of pay raises, mental health and wellness support, better health benefits and a focus on hiring and retaining nurses .

The union has set a strike date of April 25th.

Stanford Hospital at Stanford University in California is consistently ranked among the top hospitals in the United States by US News, but nurses say high turnover, inadequate staffing and inadequate benefits and proposed salary increases have contributed to high burnout rates. . In a survey of union members, 45% of reporting nurses say they intend to quit their jobs in the next five years.

Katie Stormberg, a 19-year-old nurse in the radiology department at Stanford Hospital and vice-chair of the Crona’s Committee on the Recognition of Nursing Achievements, blamed the strike for continuing reliance on hospitals by contractors and their policies to force nurses to work. overtime against a shortage of staff, unfilled vacancies and difficulties in retaining enough nurses.

“It’s not sustainable,” Stormberg said. “Nurses have an irresistible sense of guilt that they work overtime when they receive messages asking nurses to come every four hours on their weekends.”

She also cited inflation, the high cost of living in the Bay area, student debt and other hospitals in the area providing better wages and benefits as obstacles for nurses to pursue a career at Stanford.

The nurses represented by the union voted 93% in favor of a strike permit, as the union’s contract expired on March 31 and 30 negotiation sessions in the last three months have not yet led to a preliminary agreement. The union criticized the lack of participation by nurses’ administrators in negotiation sessions. This will be the first time they have been on strike since 2000.

Prior to the strike, nurses rallied in front of hospitals to demand a new contract. The union must give 10 days’ notice before leaving.

Kelly McNulty, a nurse at Stanford Hospital, said that due to inadequate health insurance benefits provided to nurses, she had to find work at a local Amazon for a week on night shifts and then sign up for Cobra insurance to receive health insurance coverage that covers fertility services.

She has a hysterectomy at the age of 27 and is trying to conceive through in vitro fertilization, but the health insurance offered to the union’s nurses does not cover it.

“It’s amazing to me that we’re one of the most famous institutions in the world, and they don’t even give us insurance for IVF or reproductive benefits,” McNulty said. “I was a little shocked that I worked full time at Stanford, and then I had to live at the Econo Lodge to work for a week at Amazon just to benefit.”

In January 2022, a contract nurse at Stanford Hospital left her shift and committed suicide, stressing the need for better mental health and wellness services and improvements to the poor working conditions the nurse faced during of the Covid-19 pandemic. .

“The working conditions we have now are simply no longer sustainable,” said Leah McFadden, a nurse at Stanford’s Surgical Trauma Unit in October 2019. For the past two years, we’ve been working idle, we don’t stand a chance. to decompress or even just get out of the hospital as much as we need to.

McFadden said she was paying out of pocket to see a therapist to help her deal with the stress of working as a nurse during the pandemic. Her ward cared for Covid patients for the first 15 months of the pandemic and has since returned to surgical trauma, but patient acuity has been intense given the delays in medical care many Americans face due to pandemic restrictions and Covid-overwhelmed hospitals. patients.

“The nurses are burned and tired, and the nurses are not only leaving the bed across the country, but they don’t have to want to live in the area because it’s expensive,” McFadden said. “We want the hospital to recognize that they will have to make some drastic changes to keep the nurses they are so proud of.”

In a joint statement, a spokesman for Stanford Hospital and Children’s Hospital Lucile Packard said in an email:

“At Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, we believe that hard work at the negotiating table is a much better way than a strike to reach new contracts for our nurses. We are committed, through good faith bargaining, to agreeing on new contracts that provide nurses with a highly competitive compensation package, along with proposals that strengthen our commitment to improving staff and the benefits of wellness for nurses. Now that we are taking the necessary and precautionary steps to prepare for the possibility of a strike, we hope that CRONA has instead decided to focus on working with us on contractual agreements.

In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Line is 800-273-8255, and online chat is also available. You can also send the HOME text to 741741 to contact the Crisis Text Message Line Wizard. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, you can contact the Samaritans at 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In Australia, the Lifeline crisis support service is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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