Safety issues, short staffing prompt strike authorization of 800 healthcare workers at Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center
After months of complaints to the California Department of Public Health about worsening conditions at the hospital and stalled contract negotiations with Tenet Health, owner of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, healthcare workers have had enough
(Oct, 21 Fountain Valley, Calif) – More than 800 registered nurses and healthcare professionals at Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center overwhelmingly authorized a strike that could begin as early as next month. Negotiations are scheduled to resume Oct. 25 and the starting date and duration of the strike have not yet been set.
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. 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,” said Maggie Desierto, RN.
High turnover and a lack of stable leadership at the highest levels of Fountain Valley Regional Medical Center have caused clear instability. Low wages, unsafe working conditions, and untenable workloads persist, despite continued efforts by the staff who have provided solutions for improvements. As a result, Fountain Valley Regional Medical has undermined both recruitment and retention of hospital staff. FVRMC was cited during the pandemic by California Department of Public Health for similar safety and staffing failures.
“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.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers is a member-led movement that represents 16,000 healthcare workers in California and Hawaii, including more than 4,000 Kaiser mental health clinicians.