STANFORD NURSES: Strike Continues, Hospital Forced to Transfer Some Patients
As the 1,700 nurses at Stanford University hospital continued to strike yesterday, officials were forced to transfer 21 seriously ill infants and children to other area hospitals because of the lack of specialized nursing care, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Officials at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford Hospital and Clinic had hoped that hiring 500 replacement nurses would allow the facilities to run normally. However, the expertise required in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units forced officials to cross the picket line and ask seven striking nurses to provide care until the patients could be transferred. Felix Barthelemy, vice president of human resources at the hospitals, said: "We didn't want to put kids at risk. We thought our contingency plans would give us enough staffing, but they didn't" (Feder, 6/9). Kim Griffin, a spokesperson for the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement, the union representing the nurses, said that the nurses offered a plan to eliminate the need to transfer patients. Griffin said that when the nurses presented the hospital with their 11-day strike plan, they offered to "continue to take care of the sickest patients that could not be transferred out." She added, "They never took us up on it. They said they could do it without us, but they've found out they're in trouble" (Brazil, San Francisco Examiner, 6/8). The hospital also has postponed a number of pediatric elective surgeries and has stopped admitting patients who can wait for surgery (Workman, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9). Barthelemy expressed appreciation for those striking nurses who temporarily resumed their duties, adding: "We believe we've stabilized the situation."
In for the Long Haul
The situation is likely to continue for some time, as negotiations between the two sides have reached a stalemate and no future meetings have been scheduled. Negotiations broke down early this week when the hospital offered nurses a 4% raise in each of the next two years. The nurses' union was asking for a 11.5% raise in the first year and a 9.6% raise the following year (San Jose Mercury News, 6/9). Sue Weinstein, president of the nurses committee, said: "We remain hopeful of a settlement. But we're very disappointed in the institutions for choosing to pay scabs who have no loyalty to them, instead of their nursing staff." However, she noted that the two sides remain far apart, adding, "My understanding is that the wage proposal was management's final offer, and that there would be no more money" (Workman, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8). Barthelemy indicated that the hospitals would "be delighted to sit down" with the nurses if they requested a meeting. He said that a federal mediator has requested a joint meeting on June 19 (San Jose Mercury News, 6/9).