Press Release: Caregivers to picket hospitals in Napa and Sonoma counties amid growing staffing crisis

August 21st, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 21, 2019
Contact: Matthew Artz, 510-435-8035, martz@nuhw.org

Today’s picket is part of a Day of Action by workers at Providence St. Joseph hospitals throughout Northern California demanding contracts that secure safe-staffing as Providence seeks Adventist Health merger.

Hospital workers will picket outside Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa and Petaluma Valley Hospital today to demand contracts that provide safe staffing as Providence St. Joseph Health, the hospitals’ parent company, seeks state approval to merge its Northern California hospitals with several belonging to Adventist Health.

WHAT: Picket outside Queen of the Valley Medical Center and Petaluma Valley Hospital

WHEN: August 22, 2019 – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (outside both hospitals)

WHERE: Petaluma Valley Hospital, 400 N. McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma; Queen of the Valley Medical Center, 1000 Trancas Street, Napa

In a survey conducted by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, 92 percent of bedside caregivers at Providence St. Joseph hospitals throughout Northern California reported that their shifts are understaffed at least once a week. Nursing assistants reported having to care for as many as 20 patients at a time.

Instead of using its resources to fix the problem, Providence is demanding in contract negotiations the unlimited right to cancel caregivers’ shifts even though that would only worsen the understaffing crisis.

“We can’t provide quality patient care if we don’t have enough caregivers,” said Paula Reimers, a respiratory therapist at Queen of the Valley. “And the hospital won’t be able to retain quality workers if we can’t make enough to help support our families.”

Providence St. Joseph Health, the nation’s third largest non-profit health system, was formed by the 2016 merger of Providence Health & Services with St. Joseph Health, which operated Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital in Sonoma County, and St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial hospitals in Humboldt County.

In 2017, those hospitals reported combined profits exceeding $126 million, yet Providence laid off more than 70 caregivers and failed to meet state-mandated requirements for providing charity care for patients who couldn’t afford medical bills. Now Providence wants to merge its Northern California hospitals with Adventist Health System/West, which would drastically reduce services at St. Helena Hospital in Napa County, where the new company would have a monopoly on acute care hospitals.

“The bigger Providence St. Joseph gets, the less responsive it is to the needs of our community,” said Patricia Lopez, a nursing assistant at Petaluma Valley. “Now is the time for everyone to hold this corporation accountable for safely staffing its hospitals and investing in patient care.”

Providence St. Joseph is the nation’s third-largest non-profit health system by revenue, and has 51 hospitals and over 800clinics. Adventist Health System/West operates 21 hospitals and more than 290 clinics.