By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Nurses and their supporters formed a picket line Tuesday evening near the entrance to Bluefield Regional Medical Center and drew attention to what they said were violations of federal law by the facility’s owner, Community Health Systems medical facilities.
Registered nurses at BRMC and the Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte joined nurses in Ohio and California to highlight “brazen violations of federal law by CHS- affiliated hospitals and hospitals’ failure to address rampant patient care problems,” according to a press release from the National Nurses Organizing Committee.
“Today we’re out here doing an informational picket. The purpose is to raise awareness in the community about the nurses’ concerns for safe staffing here at Bluefield Regional,” said Ramona Boyer, RN.
Mike Adams, RN, said he has seen many changes in staffing and personnel turnover since he started at BRMC 10 years ago.
“Basically, the turnover is horrendous,” Adams said. “As it stands right now, they don’t have enough nurses or support staff to adequately take care of our patients in a safe manner, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Nurses were also picketing Greenbrier Valley Medical Center in Ronceverte, another hospital in Ohio and two more in California. The National Nursing Organizing Committee also had pickets last February.
“What we’re out here for is patient safety and patient care,” said Karen Galuszek, RN. “This is a nationwide nursing call to action against CHS hospitals.”
Galuszek compared the situation to a person who expected to take care of one child suddenly finding there are eight to watch over. At BRMC, nurses who are caring for a manageable number of patients can suddenly find themselves “slammed,” she said.
“We need optimum nursing/patient care,” Galuszek stated. “You get overwhelmed at times. We like our hospital. It’s a great place to work. It’s not that they need to just hire more nurses. They need to be looking at the patient care issues. They need to help us provide optimum patient care.”
Labor board hearings are scheduled in April for CHS hospitals in Ohio and California, and pending for CHS hospitals in West Virginia, according to the National Nurses Organizing Committee press release.
The hospital issued a statement Tuesday.
“Our hospital is operating as usual today and our top priority is the care and safety of our patients, employees and visitors. All inpatient, outpatient and emergency services are available and all surgeries and diagnostic procedures are continuing as scheduled,” Rebekah Ritter, director of marketing, public relations and volunteers for BRMC said.