VENTURA COUNTY II: St. John’s Nurses Await Union Election Results
California nurses concerned about low-pay and patient care, are awaiting results of a vote on whether they will join a labor union, the Los Angeles Times reports. Roughly 530 registered nurses at two financially troubled Ventura County hospitals -- St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and St. John's Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo -- voted on unionization in response to nationwide cost cutting of HMOs. "The main issue is that we're working our hearts out and management says 'We need more, we want more,'" said Nancy Daw, a St. John's nurse. Nurses argue that they must unionize to increase their power to make decisions about patient care. They also are concerned about issues of short staffing, transfers for duties for which they are not trained, and the potential for layoffs. Hospital administrators, however, argue that a union is not needed. "We've told our nurses that we respect their right to have a choice in this election, but we also have told them that we think we can do a better job than [the union] in addressing the concerns and frustrations that nurses have not only here, but throughout health care," St. John's Charles Padilla said. Employees at 22 of Catholic Health Care West's 46 hospitals in California have already formed unions. "Many nurses feel that health care is no longer driven by compassion for patients but by the bottom line," Union spokesperson Lisa Hubbard said. Catherine Sims, a nurse in Oxnard, added, "During the 16 years I've been in nursing, I've watched a deterioration in the attitude toward nursing, and less and less focus on patient care ... It feels like it's more about dollars and cents than humanity" (Kelley, 1/13).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.