600 Nurses Issue Strike Notice to CA-Based MarinHealth Medical Center Hospital
Another California hospital has received a 10-day strike notice from its employed RNs over a host of issues that the nurses say are unacceptable, including unsafe staffing levels, a lack of a “fair contract,” and impaired patient care.
National Nurses United (NNU), in conjunction with the California Nurses Association (CNA), stated that the 600 registered nurses it represents at MarinHealth Medical Center in Greenbrae, CA, issued the strike notice to the hospital over “deep concerns about patient care, safe staffing, and retention and recruitment of nurses.” The proposed strike will last one day and take place on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
The CNA and NNU also explained that the strike notice was issued because MarinHealth administration had refused to address the nurses’ concerns.
About the MainHealth Strike
According to the NNU, nurses at MarinHealth voted about the strike on March 6th, with 98% voting in favor of authorizing the bargaining committee representing the union-registered nurses to call for a strike. As is protocol, the strike authorization vote allows the union to give hospital administrations 10 days' notice that the nurses plan to strike. The 10-day notice is a courtesy to allow for the hospital to make a bargaining agreement and if needed, make any necessary arrangements to allow patient care to continue undisrupted.
The NNU also explained that the nurses at MarinHealth have been trying to negotiate with the hospital administrations since June 2022 for a new contract with “little to no movement on key issues.” Their contract expired in July of 2022. The key issues they are negotiating to be addressed in the contract include:
Investing in nursing staff
Safe staffing levels
New nurse recruitment
“The MarinHealth nurses voted for this strike,” Lynn Warner, a 33-year veteran RN in the metabolic care unit at MarinHealth, said per the NNU. “We are striking because MarinHealth is refusing to address issues of patient safety and severe understaffing. A fair contract is needed to retain experienced nurses, have sufficient staffing and training, and ensure we have the resources we need to provide safe and effective care for our patients. Nurses are fighting back against MarinHealth’s putting profits before patients and health care workers.”
The strike is planned to take place starting on Tuesday, March 28th at 7 AM and last until Wednesday, March 29th at 6:59 AM at MarinHealth Medical Center, 250 Bon Air, Larkspur, and will include RNs at the hospital.
Picketing Started in January 2023
The strike comes after nurses at the hospital already picketed outside the facility in January of 2023, citing “unsafe conditions” caused by “insufficient staffing,” reported Marin Independent Journal. Nurses told the Journal that part of the problem with the hospital’s staffing issues was that there were no competitive wages or benefits packages offered for employees, so nurses and other healthcare professionals were not motivated to stay or come to the hospital for work. That led to a shortage of not just nurses, but also ancillary staff and professionals like respiratory therapists—which further added to the workload of already overworked nurses.
“We are constantly admitting patients and then not having enough staff to care for them,” Lynn Warner, a nurse who was the head of bargaining at the time told the paper. “Sometimes patients wait anywhere from 12 to 30 hours in the emergency room until there is a staffed bed for that patient to go to.”
At the time, other nurses reported being constantly asked to work overtime, not getting adequate rest between shifts, and never having time off approved.
The MarinHealth website explains that the MarinHealth hospital is owned by Marin Healthcare district and was once known as Marin General Hospital. The 327-bed hospital is full-service and not-for-profit and includes a level III trauma center and ER that takes 70% of the county’s ambulance traffic, as well as the labor and delivery unit in the area.
In 2022, Leapfrog gave MarinHealth Medical Center a “C” rating for safety and noted that some of the safety concerns of the hospital were “harmful events,” “patient falls,” “falls causing broken hips,” and “blood clots.” Their scores for qualified nurses and effective leadership were also in the red “danger” zone.
As recently as February 28th, the MarinHealth L&D unit in particular seems to have been experiencing some issues with staffing, as a night shift position was posted to “Crisis & Strike Rates Travel Nursing” Facebook page.
Nurses Speak Up About Working Conditions
“Nurses overwhelmingly voted to go on strike because we see no other option left for us and our patients,” MarinHealth ER nurse Kathleen Sickert told the NNU. “We have tried repeatedly to address the chronic and widespread problem of short staffing, which causes delays in care and potentially puts patients at risk, but hospital administrators continue to ignore us. We have a moral and legal obligation to advocate for our patients. We advocate for them at the bedside, at the bargaining table, and, if we have to, on the strike line.”
MarinHealth was also at the center of a strike in 2019 when the hospital threatened to demand healthcare workers—including nurses—pay hundreds more dollars into their health insurance plans or accept an HMO that required traveling to find new doctors and care. The strike was successful in raising workers’ salaries so they could cover the costs of the new insurance plans.
Currently, there is no public update from MarinHealth available on their website or social media regarding the strike notice. Nurse.org has also reached out to MarinHealth for a response and will update if a response is received.
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