Registered nurses at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) in Grass Valley will hold an informational picket on Friday Dec. 13, California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United announced today. The goal of the picket is to let the public know that the hospital’s drastic cuts in nursing, and nurses aide staff are eroding the quality of patient care.

“We are holding a picket because we fear for our patients’ health, safety and overall care. When the hospital decided to eliminate the essential charge nurse positions and cut nurses aide staff they were effectively deciding to take care away from patients,” said Chrissie Marshall, RN float pool. “As a float nurse I see how these cuts are impacting patients and delaying care throughout the hospital. We are standing together as patient advocates and calling on the hospital to restore and maintain the charge nurses and nurses aides so that we can provide our patients with the care they deserve.”

What: RNs to Hold Picket Urging Improvements in Staffing at SNMH

When: Friday, Dec. 13 – 6:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Where: Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital 155 Glasson Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945

According to nurses, the hospital has decreased nurses aid staff by half on a number of shifts and is pursuing a reconfiguration of staff that substitutes “nurse shift managers” for charge nurses. With this change they are replacing seasoned RNs that provide and assist other nurses in direct patient care with managers that do no direct patient care. The loss of charge nurses combined with cutbacks in nurses aide staff means a serious reduction in the capacity to care for patients, say nurses, especially in the hardest hit units, which include telemetry, med/surg and the emergency department.

“Many of our patients have suffered a stroke and may have lost use of half of their body. RNs must have the support of adequate nurses aides for these patients as they need to be fed, bathed, and turned at regular intervals to avoid pressure sores,” said Tammy Karnow, RN, Telemetry Unit. “We are holding a picket to let the public know how staff reductions are impacting care at the hospital and we welcome the public’s support.”

“The RNs at SNMH want to provide great care for the community but current staffing conditions, including a fifty percent reduction in nurses aides on some shifts, jeopardizes our ability to provide quality care in a timely manner,” said Tracey Barbee, RN, Telemetry Unit. “For example, when patients call for assistance in going to the bathroom, the response is often delayed which is leading to an increase in falls. We are calling on management to restore staffing so our patients can be safe and well cared for.” 

SNMH is operated by Dignity Health, which is now owned by CommonSpirit Health, the $29 billion health system created in February through a megamerger between San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). To win approval of the merger by the California Attorney General, Dignity and CHI agreed to a number of conditions including a pledge not to change or reduce the availability or accessibility of health services at any of its facilities. They also agreed to dramatically expand charity care and create a multi-million- dollar initiative to care for hospitalized patients experiencing homelessness in the communities where Dignity has hospitals.

SNMH’s parent company now operates 140 hospitals in 16 states and ended the third quarter of fiscal 2019 with a net income of $500 million, up from $213 million in the same period of the year prior.

California Nurses Association (CNA) represents 265 registered nurses at SNMH. CNA is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 150,000 members. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.