Nursing Strike: Us Nurses Are Now Considered Zeroes Due To Poor Working Conditions

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : August 2, 2021

Every night in April last year, people across the country came out of quarantine to cheer health care workers saving lives during the Coronavirus outbreak. In the past 16 months, nurses across the country have held strikes and pickets amid accusations of worsening working conditions.

Dominique Muldoon, a nurse who has worked for Saint Vincent’s hospital in Worcester for more than 20 years, said that most of us felt we quickly went from heroes to zeroes.

A strike by more than 700 nurses has been ongoing at Saint Vincent Hospital, owned by Tenet Healthcare for over four months, which is the second-longest strike by nurses in Massachusetts history. Over $30,000 has been spent on police protection every day since the strike began. The hospital also brought in replacement workers throughout the strike.

Nursing Strike: Us Nurses Are Now Considered Zeroes Due To Poor Working Conditions

Co-chair of the local bargaining unit, Muldoon, said understaffing worsened during the pandemic, with more furloughs and cuts, as nurses did not rest during breaks and worked past their scheduled shifts to help patients.

Nursing Strike: Us Nurses Are Now Considered Zeroes Due To Poor Working Conditions

Muldoon said nurses were crying in their cars as they drove home at night. One will end up working late or overcompensating until one cannot keep up with the workload. If one keeps trying to overcompensate, one will eventually become so frustrated and will not be able to keep up, Muldoon added.

Despite all the coronavirus surgeries, Muldoon said cutting staff and budgets were “the new normal” at the hospital and that nurses had gone above and beyond in caring for patients during an emergency.

Nurse Marlena Pellegrino told reporters before the pandemic, nurses and the union attempted to negotiate staffing ratios with hospital officials, but their concerns had been dismissed.

The employer has shown little respect for our profession over the years. The pandemic shed light on that. Pellegrino reflected that he went through some very trying times in his career and his employer could have helped us rather than being an obstacle to his care for his patients. 

In Chicago, 300 nurses walked out for a day on 26 July over hospital failures during the pandemic and new contract negotiations. During the pandemic, Community First medical center lost an unprecedented number of nurses to the virus, including three nurses who died of the disease, which has left the nursing staff severely understaffed and operating on inadequate equipment.

He said: The people don’t appreciate us. It’s a claim, but it’s not true. They just take advantage of us all the time. It’s half staff. Despite our short stature, they don’t mind. If you don’t move fast enough, they just keep loading us up. It does not exist. Our belief in them was nil. Yeah, whatever. It’s as if we were healthcare suckers because they failed to protect us.

Staffing issues are not a concern at Community First. Community First’s interim CEO noted that it has policies and procedures that allow it to assess daily volumes and acuity by the department by shift, or more frequently as necessary, in a news release. There was a two-day walkout by 1,400 nurses at USC Keck and USC Norris Cancer hospitals in Los Angeles in protest of understaffing and patient safety concerns.

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On 21 July, thousands of nurses affiliated with National Nurses United held a day of action to show their support for workplace issues raised by the pandemic.

A nurse who has worked at a hospital for nearly 18 years explained that staffing issues at his hospital have worsened during the pandemic because nearby hospitals offered better pay and bonuses to lure workers away from his facility.

Anchondo said that people rarely take a break. In addition to negotiating a relief nurse, we hope to negotiate a break not interrupted by nurses.

Despite the hospital’s staffing shortage, a spokesperson denied it occurred. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, they said, they sought to protect frontline clinicians and caregivers so that they could continue to provide care to patients and communities. Our team has worked tirelessly to acquire the much-needed personal protective equipment, supplies, and personnel needed to combat this pandemic.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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