There was a loud and raucous picket line in front of Chino Valley Medical Center this morning, with over a hundred CVMC registered nurses and supporters marching and chanting to call attention to the hospital’s alarming RN turnover rate, which reached 41.75% during a recent six-month period.
“Our biggest concern is fast turnover,” said Jennie Masaoy, RN, who’s been at CVMC for thirteen years in the Med-Surg/Telemetry unit. “I train new nurses, but after a year they go away. This month alone four nurses quit because they found higher paying jobs. The impact is that we’re short nurses. We’re appealing to Prime Healthcare: pay decent RN wages so we can keep our good nurses.”
High nurse turnover presents an ongoing risk to patient safety at CVMC, as studies have shown that higher RN turnover equates to higher patient mortality. RN turnover is also expensive, estimated at 1.3 times the salary of a departing nurse. Prime Healthcare, which owns CVMC, is an enormously profitable privately-owned hospital chain.
“Our experienced nurses don’t want to leave,” said Stacey Person, RN, who works in the ER department and first volunteered at CVMC in high school twenty years ago. “They are crying when they leave. But they just can’t afford to support their families on what they make at Chino Valley. I work in the ER and in the last month or two we’ve had six nurses leave. We need our experienced nurses to train the new nurses.”
The Chino Valley RNs have been in bargaining for their first union contract since February, after a struggle for union recognition going back almost ten years since they won an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board to join UNAC/UHCP in 2010. It took multiple rounds of legal battles, including numerous decisions finding found Prime guilty of repeated unfair labor practices, before Chino Valley finally exhausted all challenges and was compelled by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal to recognize the union and begin bargaining.
The Chino Valley RNs were joined today on their picket line by UNAC/UHCP RNs and other health care professionals from several Kaiser hospitals, including Fontana, Ontario-Vineyard, and Kaiser Sunset; from Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside; and by allies from local labor unions, including UFCW Local 1428, currently on strike.