RNs at HCA hospitals plan to protest over layoffs and pay cuts

Stephon Johnson | 5/28/2020, midnight
Registered nurses at 15 HCA hospitals in six states will raise their voices in unison against their employer’s latest actions.
Nursing/health CDC/Amanda Mills acquired from Public Health Image Libraryf/reestockphotos.biz

Registered nurses at 15 HCA hospitals in six states will raise their voices in unison against their employer’s latest actions.

This Thursday and Friday, nurses at these locations will protest demands by HCA for layoffs and budget cuts. The nurses believe that the cuts would put them in danger.

“After nurses have put their lives on the line to protect HCA patients, it defies belief that HCA, which has widely failed to provide the protection nurses need, wants to further punish them with layoffs and other cuts,” stated Malinda Markowitz, RN, National Nurses United vice president and longtime HCA RN.

RNs at HCA hospitals believe they haven’t been provided with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic exacerbating the danger.

HCA received $700 million in federal government COVID-19 aid and $4 billion in Medicare loans. They’re also asking for wage freezes among other cuts.

“Nurses at RMC have worked tirelessly, often without adequate protective support from HCA, to keep ourselves, our families and our patients safe in the face of this pandemic,” stated Zoe Schmidt, an RN at Research Medical Center in Kansas City. “For the richest healthcare company in the world to repay us with threatened layoffs and pay cuts is disgraceful.”

“It is unconscionable for HCA to use the cover of the pandemic to swell its profits and dividends for shareholders at the expense of its frontline caregivers, and the patients who will be harmed by cuts in nursing staff,” Markowitz said.

In a study released last week by NNU, a survey of 23,000 nurses in 50 states revealed that they continued to work without PPEs months after the outbreak with nearly 2,000 of the responses from RNs in Florida (the state with the most HCA hospitals).

Edie Gates, an RN at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, FL, stated that the pay cuts “are especially disgraceful and a slap in the face while we have struggled, often without adequate protective support from HCA, to protect our patients, keep ourselves and our families safe, and limit the spread of the virus in the face of this dangerous pandemic.”

Eighty-three percent of Florida RNs reported reusing single-use disposable respirators and masks with a COVID-19 patient out of necessity. More than two-thirds said they had to work with exposed skin when dealing with infected patients. More than 80% of Florida RNs said they haven’t been tested for COVID-19.

“Threats of layoffs also are a clear signal to our patients to expect cuts in patient services,” stated Candice Cordero from Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Fl. “It is unconscionable for HCA to be frightening our communities with the loss of needed patient care, especially from a system with so much wealth.”

“When we are infected no one is safe,” added Louella Ellis, RN, Central Florida Regional Hospital, Sanford, FL. “When nurses are lost, who will be there to take care of our patients?”