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Nurses protest crisis staffing at Carondelet hospitals

Nurses protest staffing outside of St. Joseph's Hospital
Posted at 3:42 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 19:24:32-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Thursday morning more than 50 frontline workers protested working conditions at St. Joseph's Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital.

The workers called for an end to crisis care staffing.

"We need to invest in safe staffing now," Mellissa Fatula, who has been a nurse at St. Mary's for 7 years, said. "If nurses are unable to take care of themselves, how can they be expected to take great care of their patients."

The nurses said that right now ICU nurses are working on a three to one ratio instead of the normal one to one or two to one ratios.

"That means that your loved one is not getting the quality care that they deserve," Liz Hurt, who has been a nurse at St. Mary's for over a decade, said.

Staffing levels throughout the pandemic have gotten worse.

"We have seen many, many, staff members, many of our amazing staff members leaving because they are fed up," Fatula said.

The nurses said they have tried to talk to leadership within the hospitals but have been unsuccessful.

"They are tone deaf to our concerns," Richard Dooley, who has been a nurse at St. Mary's for over 11 years, said. "Based on the public statement they've made they are out of touch, and they are missing in action."

The hospital says they have an open-door policy.

Carondelet Health Network issued this statement in response to the complaints:

“The National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), the labor union that represents our nursing staff, is staging a COVID Day of Action rally today at St. Joseph’s and other hospitals across the nation.

We have rigorous infection prevention protocols in place, and they are working. We are grateful to our team members for their steadfast commitment to be here to care for patients in need, and our hospital remains prepared to care for our community.”

We would like the public to know that our hospital will continue to operate as usual while the rally takes place, and our patients will continue to receive uninterrupted, quality care. Our hospital and emergency room are open, fully operational and safe places for our community to receive care. They provide outstanding trauma, stroke, cardiovascular, surgical, women and infant care, along with many other market leading services.

Engaging in union picketing campaigns during this time creates risk for everyone in the community. We remain interested in constructive dialog with union and community leaders but the fact is that our hospital is responding with leading solutions during a pandemic that has caused a national and local nursing shortage. At Carondelet during the worst public health emergency of our lifetimes our doctors, nurses and support staff are here despite incredibly difficult circumstances, working tirelessly to support our patients. For this, we say, thank you.

We continue aggressive efforts to increase staffing to help supplement and support our core nursing staff including proactively compensating our team with millions of dollars in market-leading retention and new employee referral incentives.

We are disappointed with recent irresponsible comments made by those with their own agendas as these comments do not honor or represent the hard work being done by our staff to care for the community every day.

Every protocol in our COVID response has been built around the safety of our patients and staff and in compliance with CDC guidelines. We continue to provide adequate PPE supplies to ensure the safety of our staff and patients.