Fountain Valley NUHW members overwhelmingly approve strike authorization
Approximately 850 NUHW-represented registered nurses and healthcare professionals at Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center overwhelmingly authorized a strike that could begin as early as next month.
Since June, Registered Nurses, Pharmacists, Social Workers, Laboratory Scientists and Therapists have been in negotiations with Tenet Healthcare, owner of the hospital, for a contract that addresses urgent short-staffing and safety issues, as well as the need for up-to-date, fully operational equipment that is critical to the functioning of the hospital.
Between June and August 2022, hospital workers filed 158 complaints to the California Department of Public Health outlining nurse-to-patient ratio violations, broken equipment, and safety issues at the hospital.
“When our hospital is understaffed, registered nurses are stretched so thin that it becomes impossible to give the quality of care we believe is necessary,” said Maggie Desierto, a registered nurse at the hospital. “We choose to work in health care because we care about the wellbeing of our communities, and it’s time Tenet supports us in that effort.”
Fountain Valley Regional, the largest for-profit hospital in Orange County, has been beset with high turnover of workers and managers in recent years caused in large part by a lack of investment by its corporate parent, Tenet Healthcare.
During the first year of the pandemic, NUHW members successfully documented the hospital’s violation of caregiver and patient safety requirements, and forced the hospital to increase staffing and follow law. After seeing how NUHW members successfully fought for improved conditions at the hospital, the registered nurses and healthcare professionals decided to also join NUHW to fight for better conditions for themselves and their pensions.
“When we’re short staffed, not only is patient care compromised, but as licensed professionals, we have to consider whether our licensure is at risk when we are working in these conditions,” said Lacey Vasquez, a registered nurse at the hospital.
So far, management hasn’t made a proposal in bargaining that would adequately address the understaffing crisis, that is continuing to worsen. As the Orange County Register reported, NUHW-represented workers left Fountain Valley in the first five months of this year, and many more are continuing to leave.