LYNWOOD, Calif.—Hundreds of medical personnel at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood walked off the job on Oct. 9, starting a five-day strike against Prime Healthcare, which owns hospitals in 14 states.
The medical workers marched and picketed because of what their unions call chronically dangerous short staffing and patient-care practices.
“We’re working with the minimum staff in the emergency department, and the other floors too,” Jesus Amarillas, a registered nurse at the hospital, told KTLA. “It’s really tough to keep going and working every day, and then nobody’s getting a pay raise for the last three, four years.”
The union said St. Francis has been losing registered nurses since Prime bought the hospital in 2020.
In 2017, registered nurse turnover at St. Francis was 24.01 percent, according to reports from the unions. In 2022, the national average for registered nurse turnover was 22.5 percent. From 2020 to 2022, registered nurse turnover at St. Francis more than doubled to 50.42 percent.
St. Francis registered nurses have filed more than 6,000 staffing objection forms with the California’s Department of Public Health since June.
“We continue to bargain in good faith with union leadership with the goal of reaching agreements in the best interests of our hospitals, employees, and most importantly, those who we serve,” Prime Healthcare said in a statement.
“Proposals have been delivered to the unions that would increase wages and provide comprehensive benefit programs, including healthcare, that is among the best in the nation at little to no cost to employees. We believe the current proposal benefits all our employees and hope to reach an agreement so we can continue our mission of providing compassionate, quality care to patients.”
There are 600 registered nurses represented by UNAC/UHCP striking at St. Francis, and 900 other health care workers—including nursing assistants, medical assistants, vocational nurses, emergency room technicians, respiratory therapists and environmental service aides—represented by SEIU-UHW.
The 900 SEIU-UHW health care workers are striking at Prime hospitals in Centinela, Encino, and Garden Grove.
Prime Healthcare said the hospitals will remain open during the strike.