Bay Area nurses:
"Sutter Health's not a good neighbor hospital"
Photo(s) by John
October 4, 2007
Bay Area nurses held a press conference Wednesday outside of
St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco to address plans by Sutter
Health to cut patient care services.
The nurses are members of the California Nurses Association (CNA).
The nurses allege Sutter Health and its' affiliate organization,
California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), want to eliminate in-patient
emergency and acute care services at St. Luke's, and other Sutter
Plans for a two-day strike scheduled on Oct. 10th and 11th was
announced at the press conference.
It is expected to be the union's largest strike in ten years.
Approximately 5,000 registered nurses from fifteen Bay Area hospitals
are expected to take part in the strike action.
Jan Rodolfo RN and member of CNA said improvement in staffing
is one of her main concerns.
She said Sutter Health have regularly failed to provide adequate
"You work your twelve hour shift without a meal or a break,
which isn't good for you or your patients," said Rodolfo.
"Or, you have to walk away from them and feel like you're
leaving them unattended. One of the things we'd like them to do
is actually obey the 'ratio law' and provide meal and break relief."
Rodolfo added that the elimination of emergency and acute care
services from St. Luke's Hospital will have devastating impacts.
"If you're having an acute heart attack and you need to
get to the hospital fast, then even seconds count," said
Rodolfo. "To have to travel across town to another facility
could make the difference between life and death."
According to Marc Snyder, St. Luke's Head of Emergency, the hospital
currently receives approximately ten ambulances a day. Loss of
in-patient care at St. Luke's would involve the hospital no longer
taking in patients who arrive by ambulance.
In an earlier meeting, Snyder said San Francisco General Hospital
is already on a 20 percent rate of ambulance diversion for non-trauma
patients. St. Luke's receives a share of that overflow.
Snyder said closure of in-patient care at St. Luke's would mean
increasing pressure on emergency departments at other hospitals.
"Diversion would be a big problem," Snyder said, adding
that ambulances would have longer wait times and travel distances.
He said staff and patients at St. Luke's both felt the importance
of keeping in-patient services open.
CPMC spokesperson Kevin McCormack denied plans to close services.
"The allegations are ridiculous," McCormack said. "We're
committed to the future of St. Luke's."
McCormack accused the CNA nurses of ulterior motives, claiming
they were attempting to get more members in the union, and calling
their allegations "a distraction."
"Right now we don't plan on cutting any emergency services
here. Our emergency room is vital to the community. We're trying
to serve the needs of this community the best we can," McCormack
He made no promises, however, that specific services would not
be cut in the future.
"You can't guarantee anything," he added. "Nothing's
McCormack acknowledged that changes are being considered at St.
Luke's Hospital but that he could not reveal any plans before
presenting them to the Board of Supervisors.
"The words sound nice but the veracity is not," said
Supervisor Tom Ammiano following McCormack's comments. "I'm
not fooled by the words, we need to see the action."
Supervisor Tom Ammiano
Nurses remain skeptical citing promises by Sutter Health in 2000
that services would not be cut, only to suffer the loss of the
psychiatric ward in 2005, and more recent downgrades in the neo-natal
care unit, as well as cuts in physical and occupational therapy.