Sunrise, MountainView and Southern Hills criticized in SEIU report
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A union report that calls out “systemic low staffing” at HCA hospitals nationwide says staffing levels at HCA hospitals in Nevada are 34% lower than the national average.
This puts patients at risk, the union said. A press release announcing the report said nurses and frontline workers have witnessed a staffing shortage that has jeopardized patient care.
Across the country, HCA hospitals have 30% fewer staff than the national average, according to the report. The report is based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released in 2021.
Now nurses are calling on HCA to increase staffing levels, improve salaries and prioritize better patient care.
The report was produced by the Service Employees International Union, the fastest growing union in North America. About 1 million nurses and other health care workers make up about half of the union’s membership nationwide. The total membership of Local 1107 in Nevada is about 19,000 – 4,600 in healthcare jobs – according to a SEIU spokesperson.
The 77-page report was released to coincide with a Thursday protest in Los Angeles that included SEIU members from four states, including Nevada.
HCA – Hospital Corporation of America – operates Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, MountainView Hospital, and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center.
A statement released by the Sunrise Health System released at 5 p.m. criticized SEIU’s tactics in releasing the report as a regular round of negotiations is about to begin.
“The SEIU has a history of attacking and intimidating community hospitals with cleverly presented and misleading information and organized events designed to gain media coverage. The union report singled out data from the CMS cost report that supported its story and simply ignored data that did not,” the statement said. See the full text of Sunrise Health System’s statement at the bottom of this story.
The report links staffing levels to burnout.
“We want to be the best nurses we can be, but we don’t have the staff and resources to give our patients the care they need and deserve,” said Jody Domineck, registered nurse in the pediatric ward at an HCA hospital in Las Vegas. for over 16 years.
Domineck said staffing levels impose “impossible and heartbreaking choices.”
“Do I rush to the child who is struggling to breathe, or do I help the child who desperately needs more painkillers? It’s like playing a frantic game of medical mole, running from the most threatening crisis to the next Some days we sit in the car at the end of our shift and cry, because it’s so demoralizing when you do everything you can and that’s still not enough. HCA needs to protect us so we can continue to protect our patients,” Domineck said.
The union points to HCA’s $7 billion in profits in 2021 and says wages fall short.
“We are so understaffed in the operating room and throughout the hospital that workers are getting badly burned,” said Erika Watanabe, a board-certified surgical technician at an HCA hospital in Las Vegas for 18 years.
Watanabe said she had to work 19 hours straight due to a lack of staff. “There are patient care technicians who see 18 patients per shift. It’s just not fair to the workers or the patients we care for,” she said.
“Despite all the difficulties, we have shown ourselves for our community and our hospital throughout the pandemic. Now HCA has to show up for us,” Watanabe said.
Sunrise Health System Statement:
“At Sunrise Health System, we believe that a strong culture of respect and collaboration among our colleagues is essential to our mission. We value all members of our care teams and provide a safe environment for our patients.
We strongly disagree with the SEIU claims. The SEIU has a history of attacking and intimidating community hospitals with cleverly presented and misleading information and organized events designed to gain media coverage. The syndicate report singled out data from the CMS cost report that supported its story and simply ignored data that did not.
The reality is that, in the context of a national nursing shortage, exacerbated by a pandemic and a continued increase in patients, our staff are safe, appropriate and in line with other community hospitals and applicable regulations.
Our hospitals are proud to have received many recent accolades from Healthgrades, each recognized as one of the top 250 hospitals in the country. We live our mission every day, committing ourselves to caring for and improving human life. Serving the greater community of Las Vegas and surrounding states, this translates to nearly 900,000 patient visits per year.
We expect a variety of union tactics like this as we are about to begin our regular round of negotiations with the union in the near future.
— Sunrise Health System