Tucson nurses strike for more nursing staff at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals

The strike begins Friday morning, Sept. 20
Nurses hold strike at St. Mary's hospital
Nurses hold strike at St. Mary's hospital(Google Maps)
Published: Sep. 17, 2019 at 8:59 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Registered nurses at Tenet-affiliated, St. Joseph’s, and St. Mary’s hospitals in Tucson, will hold one-day strikes Sept. 20.

RN strikes will also be held at Tenet hospitals in Florida and California.

Nurses at all 12 Tenet facilities are urging management to invest in nursing staff. This will improve the recruitment and retention of experienced RNs, and ensure optimal patient care, say nurses.

The strike will begin Friday, Sept. 20, 7:00 am and continue through Sat. Sept. 21, at 6:59 a.m. Nurses will meet at St. Mary’s Hospital, located at 1601 W. St. Mary’s Road, Tucson, Arizona or at St. Joseph’s Hospital, located at 350 N. Wilmot Road, Tucson, Arizona. This will include a rally on Sept. 20 at 10 a.m.

Over 37,000 people who hold active RN licenses in Arizona do not work as nurses, according to the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of these are retired or unemployed while others are choosing not to work in the field.

“We believe more of those nurses would choose to work at the bedside if there were staffing and other working conditions that supported their providing optimal care to patients,” said Janice Ames, one of over 5400 RNs who work at the Tenet hospitals going out on strike in Florida, Arizona and California.

“Our patients are more likely to get optimal care when the hospital prioritizes investing in the nursing staff,” said Jessica Rose an RN in the Ortho Neuro unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “This will strengthen recruitment and retention of experienced nurses and make it possible to bring staffing into alignment with what research shows is optimal for patient care.”

According to well-established research there is a clear link between RN staffing levels and good patient outcomes. For example, research shows that every patient over four assigned to one nurse in a medical/surgical unit, could increase mortality by seven percent per patient.

The staffing grid at St. Mary’s Hospital allows for up to six patients per nurse in the medical/surgical units.

Research suggests that a safe patient load per nurse in a progressive care unit, which is one step down in acuity from the ICU, is one nurse for every three patients. At St. Joseph’s the staffing grid allows for up to eight patients in the progressive care unit.

The staffing grid at St. Joseph’s also allows for three infant patients per nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit when it is widely accepted that a ratio of one nurse for every two infants at most is best. Optimal care requires that a nurse focus on one infant patient assignment only.

The 892 RNs that work at both hospitals are members of National Nurses.

Organizing Committee (NNOC), which is affiliated with National Nurses United, is the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the United States with 150,000 members.

NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.

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