NIH nurses to rally Monday on ‘urgent’ situation

Press release

Nurses at Northern Inyo Hospital are fighting for their first union contract, calling on hospital administration to address staffing shortages at a time when health care is in high demand.

The Registered Nurses at the hospital voted to join with AFSCME Local 315 (Eastern Sierra) in 2015. After 13 months of negations the nurses have decided to step up the pressure on the hospital’s administration to settle a contract by holding a rally on May 2 at 5 p.m to let the community know how urgent the situation is.

“The contract negotiations could be over in a couple of days if the Northern Inyo Hospital District would make this their single focus,” said Vickie LaBraque, a 29 year employee and RN negotiating committee member. “Our goal is to negotiate a contract that respects and retains existing staff while being attractive to new nurses. A resolution of these negotiations will allow us to move into the future, truly working together as one team.”

The health care field is one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy. But in rural parts of California including the Eastern Sierra, skilled nurses like the ones at Northern Inyo Hospital are discouraged by rigid and inflexible policies that create a revolving door of workers—and the nurses who have been there the longest have to take on the brunt of the work.

Nurses say the loss of workers at the hospital over the last two years is an example of how not settling a contract with the union has negatively impacted retention and the services the hospital provides to the community. Every nursing department has lost staff and the hospital is now relying heavily on traveling staff to fill the gaps.

The revolving door of hospital staff has created an enormous hardship on the few workers, like Anneke Bishop, a labor and delivery nurse at Northern Inyo Hospital, who have the skills to take care of a variety of patients but are burdened with the added responsibility of continually training traveling nurses.

“We should do everything we can to retain the nurses that we have,” said Bishop, who has been working at the hospital for 11 years.

As contract bargaining takes place in areas like Inyo County, AFSCME is fighting to make agencies put more value in the front-line public workers who are now required to do more with less.

That means that policies leading to high RN turnover need to be addressed. Otherwise, those skilled workers are going to continue to opt for taking jobs at other workplaces.

“We have a lot of Registered Nurses who are committed to our community,” said Nurse Chris Hanley. “We need a good contract and a hospital that acts as a magnet to recruit new staff and retain the excellent staff we have.”


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4 Responses to NIH nurses to rally Monday on ‘urgent’ situation

  1. Philip Anaya May 2, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

    Being a grateful recipient of their care and that of all the other staff members of NIH , I knew there was no better place to be this afternoon than walking carrying a sign with the nurses . As a patient of all these healers I have relied on their skills, their humanity and some of us have literally trusted them with lives of ourselves and loved ones . There should be zero impediments to their tasks at hand and they should be provided with all the tools possible including a healthy stable work environment in which to provide care and to begin and maintain the healing process. The environment of NIH coincidentially also benefits the healing process of patients. A hospital with turmoil, losing Staff, dividing friends and co- workers as we have experienced is not a pleasent place and it is time to wash that difficult period away.
    Today I witnessed a great group of people, a great team out on the sidewalk asking for a completed contract. A rhythm of human development ,a gestation being 9 months makes 13 months a little long in the tooth and like anything that is physioemotionally overdue things become all that more difficult and a burden . Post haste NIH Board of Trustees , It is time to finalize the contract with our caregivers . It is time to demonstrate your skill sets as Leaders, keep the word trust alive and well in your title and at Northern Inyo Hospital . The well being and the care of the people in the Eastern Sierra is in your hands and a shared responsibility with all of your Staff. With 2 weeks to go till the next NIH Board of Trustee meeting there is adequete time to finalize negotiations , to post a completed contract agreement/proposal on the agenda as an action item and then make the decision to approve the proposal.
    Having the experience as a construction professional it took some time to finally realize that every trade every bit of labor skilled and not so skilled on the jobsite all worked into the final product,in my experience, not a house but a home . In the NIH experience there is the new facility. Whether anyone realizes it or not all the staff ,the adminstrative, care giving, the mehanical ,technlogical, maintenance and others all contribute to the saving of lives and to the healing of pain and suffering of it’s patients. Providing not only health services but also the security and piece of mind that we can have with a healthy Northern Inyo Hospital free of conflicts is a team effort and is the ulitmate responsibity of the Board of Trustees . It is time to complete the contract with our care givers. It is time to build the Team to take NIH into the future. Please don’t let the people of the Eastern Sierra down .

    • JulieT May 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

      Nice comments and spot on!

  2. Rockhugr May 2, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

    More money and more paid time off is what they are not “saying”.Nurses are moving to other departments and retiring. Keeping good employees in the area is difficult because it is very expensive to live here, not because NIH doesn’t treat their well. Traveling nurses would love to stay in the area but $1700/month in rent is hard even for well trained and well paid professionals. No-I am not a nurse, nor a former employee, but I do know many nurses that work there.

  3. Trouble May 3, 2016 at 6:55 am #

    I was really down on our hospital , mainly due to their your on the next flight out policies . But the one thing my many visits there showed me , was their service and kindness of their nurses was second to none.


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