Business / Economy

Nurses strike against Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Registered nurses begin one-day strike at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, claim patient safety at risk because of understaffing and long hours without breaks.

Registered nurses were marching and chanting in front of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital at 6 a.m. this morning and will continue to voice their grievances until 6 p.m. during a one-day strike. The nurses claim the hospital is putting patients in jeopardy through under-staffing practices, resulting in long shifts without required 12-hour rest periods in between.

Sally Melendez, a registered nurse in the OB department, said the nurses just found out that morning that the hospital’s board would be implementing plans Aug. 25 to “aggressively put our takeaways into action, and we, as nurses will not stand for this and they can expect more action from us if these takeaways go through.”

She described the takeaways as “safe patient staffing, including 12-hour rest periods.”

“Us nurses work 12, 14, 16, and sometimes 18 hours with no breaks, no rest periods that keep us alert, oriented, and able to do safe patient care,” she said.  “They’re going to be mandating that we work longer hours with shorter staffing.”

Dr. Teresa Mack, labor representative for the California Nurses Association, said at the strike line said the nurses want the public to know that the demonstration was about chronic short staffing.

“The protections that the hospital is trying to take away will open them up to even more exploitive staffing,” she said.

Jeannie Kraml, RN, had to shout over honking horns of passing motorists apparently in support of the nurses that they are picketing in the hope that management and the public hears what they have to say.

When asked what she hopes will be accomplished with a one-day strike, Kraml said, “It will show management that they need us. We are the bedside nurses; we are the ones giving the care day in and day out.  We are fighting for safe staffing for the community.”

Frankie Gallagher, director of marketing and public relations at the hospital, said, “We’re fully staffed and conducting business as usual.”

She said the strike is not affecting the hospital, which is continuing to function by using temporary nurses, as well as full-time nurses who are not taking part in the strike.

There were approximately 40 nurses in front of the hospital at 8 a.m. Kraml said a group signed up for the morning and another group would be coming in the afternoon. There will be a rally and press conference at noon.

Local reaction to the strike has been instantaneous and supportive on Facebook, with one comment coming from Jodi Cardenas, who is apparently a patient inside the hospital: "Nurses are protesting…. I know because I can hear them from my bed!! I understand what they want …. But this is crazy… Hurry up HH… Give them what they want."

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]