Nurses Strike Sutter, Protest Closures, Reductions in Face of $4 Billon Profit

Bay Area Sutter RNs Begin One-Day Strike
Hospital Giant Seeks Massive Cuts Despite $4 Billion in Profits
Nurses to Also Protest Sutter Plans to Close Hospitals, Cut Care

Registered nurses are on strike today at eight hospitals that are part of the wealthy Sutter corporate chain to protest Wall Street-type demands for more than 100 sweeping reductions in patient care and nurses’ standards and workplace conditions.

The nurses, members of the California Nurses Association, National Nurses United, offered to call off the strike if Sutter agreed to withdraw the concession demands.

Some 4,500 RNs, as well as respiratory and radiology techs, are affected by the walkout at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Lakeside.

Despite making over $4 billion in profits since 2007, and paying its chief executive Pat Fry $4.7 million a year (or $2,260 per hour), Sutter is demanding big cuts for its RNs, many of which would pose risks to patient safety. Among Sutter’s demands are proposals that would effectively force nurses to work when sick, dangerously exposing already fragile patients to infection and further complications; thousands of dollars in increased costs to nurses for health coverage for themselves and their families; forcing many nurses to work in hospital units for which they do not have clinical expertise, posing a risk to patients, and huge cuts for nurses who work part time schedules.

Among Sutter’s demands are proposals that would effectively force nurses to work when sick, dangerously exposing already fragile patients to infection and further complications; thousands of dollars in increased costs to nurses for health coverage for themselves and their families; forcing many nurses to work in hospital units for which they do not have clinical expertise, posing a risk to patients, and huge cuts for nurses who work part time schedules.

Some 4,500 RNs are affected by the planned walkout which scheduled for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Lakeside.

Radiology and respiratory technicians will also be on strike Tuesday.

In addition to the concession demands, the strikers will protest Sutter’s reductions in patient care services throughout the region, including moves to:

· Close San Leandro hospital, abandoning tens of thousands of patients who depend on the hospital for emergency and in-patient care. The closure announcement is expected May 1.

· End breast cancer screening for women with disabilities and most bone marrow transplant services for cancer patients at Alta Bates Summit in Oakland and Berkeley.

· Close a pulmonary sub-acute unit at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley which serves patients with long term, severe incapacities, some of whom have been there for years.
· Stop providing psychiatric services under contract with Sacramento County for more than 225 Sacramento children.

· Close specialized pediatric care, acute rehabilitation, dialysis, and skilled nursing care services at Mills and Peninsula hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo.

· Close home health services and limit acute-care hospital stays in Lakeport.

· Close acute rehabilitation services, skilled nursing care, and psychiatric services, and substantially downgrade nursery care for sick children at Eden Hospital in Castro Valley.

· Sharply cut psychiatric care at Herrick Hospital in Berkeley.

· Close a birthing center at Sutter Auburn Faith, forcing new mothers and families to travel up to 100 miles for obstetrics care, while giving a $1 million gift to the Sacramento Kings.

· Close pediatric, psychiatric, lactation, and transitional care services in Santa Rosa.