Nurses Plan Another Strike at St. John’s Hospitals
Nurses at St. John's hospitals in Oxnard and Camarillo, still concerned about medical benefits, may hold another strike starting Thursday, the Ventura County Star reports. The nurses held a 14-day strike in December, maintaining that staffing levels were too low, jeopardizing patient care. While compromises have been reached on salaries and staffing issues, the Service Employees International Union Local 399, which represents 310 of the 520 registered nurses at the two Catholic Healthcare West-owned facilities, is rejecting the hospital's offer of free Health-Net HMO coverage because it "has too many restrictions." Susan Franks, an emergency room nurse at St. John's Medical Center in Oxnard, said, "With that HMO we would not be able to receive services at any Catholic Healthcare hospitals. For them to offer that to us for free is sort of insulting." The hospital said that negotiations would continue "until the last possible minute" and that patient services would not be affected if the strike occurs. Armando Azarloza, a spokesperson for St. John's, said, "We are just puzzled by the fact that there may be a strike when we met and exceed most of the demands. We hope it doesn't happen and will negotiate to the eleventh hour." Jane Chambers, a nurse who trains RNs in Camarillo and Oxnard, said she does not agree with the union's position. She added, "I'm angry and I really wish I could get rid of the union. It's not about patient care anymore, it's about money" (Jennings, Ventura County Star, 2/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.