Barstow RNs Hold Candlelight Vigil Protest On Opening Day Of New Hospital-Saturday

Nurses question priorities of state-of-the-art facility as exodus of qualified RNs reaches crisis

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)–Registered nurses at Barstow Community Hospital (BCH) will hold a candlelight vigil Saturday evening to highlight their concerns with the hospital chain’s misplaced priorities that placed the construction of a new facility with 15,000 additional square feet before ways to recruit and retain experienced nurses, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.

While the new hospital boasts of its emergency department which will include a trauma bay, airborne infection exam room, and 15 exam rooms, nearly one-half of the ED RN staff have resigned. Nurses attribute the exodus of RNs to the substandard patient care protections, salaries, and benefits that are well below community standards of area hospitals.

“A hospital cannot be state of the art if it is only a building,” said Suzette Pornelos Kaliko, an RN who works in the emergency department at the facility. “It also needs committed, highly trained and dedicated RNs. More and more of our experienced nurses are leaving to work in hospitals where they can provide safer patient care.”

What:         Barstow Community Hospital Nurse Candlelight Vigil

When:         Saturday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.

Where:        Mountain View Entrance to new hospital

820 Mountain View, Barstow, CA

“This is the only hospital on a long stretch of road traveling between here and Las Vegas and Laughlin,” said Michael Ziemer, a RN who has worked at BCH for 37 years. “This hospital needs to be properly staffed in order to be able to provide safe care to those patients, which is not the case now.”

The RNs voted to join CNA/NNU in May of this year to gain a voice in patient care decisions, and have been in negotiations since July for a first contract.  Barstow Community hospital is affiliated with Community Health Systems (CHS), a large hospital chain based in Tennessee.

Some of the key patient care proposals include:

  • The formation of a Professional Practice Committee, a bedside RN-controlled committee found in the majority of CNA/NNU agreements, with the authority to document unsafe practices and the power to make real changes.
  • Safe RN-to-patient staffing ratios included in the contract for better compliance.
  • Trained lift teams available 24/7 to reduce the number of back and shoulder injuries incurred by nurses. Nurses have a higher incidence of musculoskeletal injuries than truck drivers.

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