Health

Sutter workers are protesting the lack of staff in hospitals

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Sutter HealthService and technology employees expect to protest at a low level of staffing in eight hospitals, saying they lead to longer waiting times and a lack of patient safety.

Workers will set up “danger zones” at each hospital in July to illustrate the dangerous conditions that patients and employees face.

Danger zones will include caution tape, orange cones, large signs and caregivers in uniform and PPE giving speeches to draw attention to care delays caused by staff shortages, said Tom Parker, senior communications specialist in SEIU-UHW.

Parker said the price increase in healthcare facilities in Northern California, including those at Sutter Health, is not justified by the care patients receive.

“Sutter puts workers like me in a position where I don’t feel like I can give my patients the time and attention they deserve because they continue to cut staff over and over again,” said Stefanye Sartain, respiratory therapist in Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Calif.

Sartain, who worked with Sutter for health care work, allegedly assumed a workload for two people, would not receive lunch breaks in his 12-hour shifts and would not receive “points” or credit for rescue procedures. more than 15 years.

She said Sutter uses a daily counting system for employee workloads, where 15 minutes is supposed to be a point. What was once the maximum count of 30 points is now the minimum number, and employees do not receive points for treating patients who die or are in a critical condition.

Sartain said the hospital does not have EKG technicians working night shifts, and that doctors are often unavailable for consultations, endangering the safety of patients. The hospital also has ambulance files without nurses to retrieve patients, which lead to longer 911 response times.

“I just hope Sutter understands that we want our quality of patient care back,” Sartain said. “We want them to stop doing everything on budget and how much money we make.”

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A Sutter Health spokesman said in a statement that the health system is sorry for the union’s protest action, but will continue to treat and support its health workers.

“We remain focused on reaching a common resolution and continuing to provide safe and compassionate care for patients,” the spokesman said.

Sutter Health has not commented on specific allegations of staff shortages or delays in caring for patients.

SEIU-UHW represents approximately 3,500 workers at nine Sutter Health facilities in Northern California, including medical assistants, respiratory therapists, police staff, food service workers, certified nursing assistants, radiology technicians and laboratory technicians.

The lack of critical resources and staff has led nurses and other health care workers across the country to protest and strike.

Hospitals that temporarily lay off or suspend employees to reduce operating costs during the pandemic have led unpaid workers to help facilities operate to defend themselves seriously, said Paul Keckley, health analyst.

Hourly workers are “very aware of the profitability of hospitals” and of the pay gap between C-suites and lower-level employees, which they will keep in mind while negotiating for better pay and better hours. , he said.

Sartain said he will have to run from patient to patient and not have time to provide adequate care to the sick or injured.

“Finally something catastrophic is going to happen,” Sartain said. “I don’t know when … but it will be if something doesn’t change.”


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