Providence St. Joseph Watch

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Layoffs & Understaffing

“A Staffing Crisis”

As Providence St. Joseph has pumped more money into executive salaries and venture capital investments, while laying off front-line caregivers, many of its hospitals are facing a staffing crisis.

A recent survey of workers at six Providence St. Joseph hospitals conducted by the National Union of Healthcare Workers found that 92 percent of responding bedside-care staff including nurses and nursing assistants reported that their shift is understaffed at least one day a week.

Nursing assistants report routinely having to care for 20 patients at a time, leaving patients waiting to be fed, bathed, and helped to the bathroom.

Chronic understaffing puts patients at risk. In December 2018, the California Department of Public Health cited St. Joseph Hospital Eureka for quickly resorting to using bedside restraints on patients, many of whom suffer from mental illness, rather than employing less-restrictive methods, such as bedside caregivers.

The hospital received a second deficiency for using restraints instead of a sitter for “a patient with a history of severe post-traumatic stress disorder and sex trafficking,” according to the Lost Coast Outpost.

Rather than address concerns from registered nurses who filed the complaint, Providence St. Joseph proceeded to layoff 25 caregivers at the hospital including all of those trained to sit with patients deemed a potential threat to themselves.

The layoffs, enacted in September of 2018, sparked protests by workers and community members warning about a staffing crisis at the hospital.

“I’m here to tell you, from the front lines, we absolutely, unequivocally, have a staffing crisis,” Randee Litten, a charge nurse at the emergency department told members of the Eureka City Council. “The average time on Sunday from decision to admit to moving the patient upstairs was seven hours,” Litten told council members. “Tell me how cutting key staff is going to improve this number?”

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