Letter: Encourage nurses’ union to improve hospital system

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a retired critical care and hospice nurse with over 30 years of practice at Mission, I am writing to encourage Mission nurses to vote for a union through National Nurses United and for community members to encourage the Mission nurses they may know to do the same. Ballots have been sent out and are due back soon so as to be counted on Sept. 16.

NNU, of which I am a member, is a union formed in 1997 from a merger of the California Nurses Association and other nursing organizations that not only strives to improve conditions and compensation for nurses, but more importantly, advocates for high-quality patient care and universal access to health care.

Since the for-profit HCA Healthcare took over management of Mission, serious concerns about patient care, staffing and working conditions have been expressed. HCA, the wealthiest for-profit health care company in the U.S. (earning $1.1 billion in the second quarter of 2020), has been plagued by ethical challenges in the past that have resulted in FBI and IRS investigations and insider trading settlements.

NNU is currently trying to get OSHA to both inspect 17 HCA facilities, including Mission Hospital, and to request a court injunction calling on HCA to stop practices that are endangering staff and patients, which include management not disclosing to staff that co-workers have been exposed to COVID, and pushing COVID-positive asymptomatic staff to continue working.

The question we must ask is: Can we afford to continue to allow HCA to endanger the welfare of our community’s patients and the staff at Mission in order for them to maximize shareholder profit, or are we going to support National Nurses United to be a firewall in the hospital as an advocate for patient and staff safety? What kind of community hospital do you want?

— Tom Craig

Editor’s note: A recent New York Times article identified HCA as among the wealthiest hospitals in the country. And an Aug. 25 Citizen Times article offered Mission Health’s rebuttal to the NNU complaint, with spokeswoman Nancy Lindell stating that the health care system has been following CDC guidance on testing patients and staff and that the union had “chosen to use this pandemic as an opportunity to gain publicity by attacking hospitals across the country.”


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