In response to the impending one-day strike by the California Nurses Association, Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach have announced the activation of their Continuity of Care Plan, aimed to maintain the normal health care services for the Long Beach community.
The CNA, which represents nearly 2,000 registered nurses at the hospital, plans to go on strike December 22, as they seek a new contract from Long Beach Memorial.
According to a hospital press release issued Friday, Long Beach Memorial last presented a new contract offer to the CNA on November 11, an offer that the hospital described as its “best and final offer.”
However, the CNA has yet to offer a response to the contract offer, much to the chagrin of Long Beach Memorial.
“We are extremely disappointed that the union has chosen this damaging course of action instead of presenting a complete response to the hospital’s offer,” said LBM vice president of human resources, Myra Gregorian. “During the past six months, we have made good faith offers to the union and modified those offers in response to union concerns.”
“We still believe that the only way to reach a fair, financially responsible contract is at the bargaining table and not on the picket line,” Gregorian continued. “We look forward to working with the union to reach an agreement that will continue our 100-year tradition of providing excellent health care to the greater Long Beach community.”
According to Friday’s press release, the hospital’s last offer included a guaranteed annual wage increase and limited contributions to healthcare premiums.
The hospital also maintains that results from a recent survey of RN wage scales conducted by the Hospital Association of Southern California, in comparison to other major hospitals in greater Los Angeles, the average pay for nurses at Long Beach Memorial is higher than that of nurses at Cedar-Sinai and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, among others.
However, according to a recent press release from the CNA, nurses at Long Beach Memorial are namely concerned with the RN-to-patient staffing ratio.
“We are finding it harder to give the quality care we want to give when our employer, like insurance companies, is only focused on the bottom line,” said Long Beach RN Margie Keenan. “This undermines our ability to deliver safe patient care. Our serious safety concerns have not been answered at the bargaining table and we will not be able to reach an agreement until they are addressed.
“Patients are more important than the bottom line,” she added.
The press release also mentions that nurses are frequently alarmed regarding their ability to take breaks at times when the hospital “frequently does not have sufficient staff to meet minimum safety standards required by California law.”
Nurses are pushing Long Beach Memorial to provide additional nurse resources in order to allow nurses to take breaks without having to worry about the safety of their patients, according to the press release.
“For nurses, it’s always the same thing that drives them to make that very difficult decision to go out on strike. It’s concern for their patients’ safety and their ability to provide safe care,” said CNA spokesperson Liz Jacobs. “That’s what’s happening in this situation.”
“The nurses feel like they’re having to take care of too many very sick patients to provide safe care,” Jacobs added.