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A Petaluma Community member calls it like it is - A letter to the editor of the Argus Courier from the last week of June  

 

Conditions for Nurses

EDITOR: I’ve been informed that the Petaluma Valley Hospital nurses have been working without a contract for four years. Isn’t it time that the corporation that manages the hospital, Providence/St Joseph Health, treat the PVH nurses as well as they do the nurses at their better-favored hospital, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital? I’m writing in support of the PVH nurses.

As a Petaluma resident of 34 years, I’m well-familiar with the staff and conditions at PVH. As an RN of 47 years, I’m well-familiar with the nurses at the hospital and the standards of nursing practice. As a nursing professor of 17 years, I’m well-familiar with the level of nursing care at most hospitals in the Bay Area.

Recently when I’ve had nursing students at PVH, I’ve had to reassure them that working conditions for nurses in most hospitals were better than what they were witnessing. I explained that furniture, equipment, and supplies were usually better updated and more available in hospitals with better budgets, and that the working conditions for nurses were better at other hospitals.

St Joseph Health spent PR funds touting the nurses as heroes during the COVID-19 public health crisis. I agree. They are heroes who absorbed the overload of patients sent from Santa Rosa Memorial with patients housed in areas where in-patients were never cared for including an unused patient unit and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. This required an incredible amount of overtime on the part of the nurses who of course canceled other plans to take care of their patients. These heroes were given insufficient and inappropriate personal protective equipment while the appropriate N95 face masks donated by so many in the community from fire supplies were licked up and not distributed to the nurses.

These heroes are truly irreplaceable. With salaries at 23 to 37% below nurses in other North Bay Hospitals, when frustrated nurses quit PVH, the hospital has been unable to recruit new nurses requiring the hospital to hire more costly traveling and temp nurses.

Leslie R. Crane
Petaluma

PVH Nurses are sharing this letter with the Petaluma Community and it is being sent to

Financial Donors of Petaluma Valley Hospital...

 

To Providence/St Joseph Health (PSJH-Operators), Petaluma Health Care District (PVH owners), Petaluma community, Petaluma Valley Hospital Donors, Press and Social Media:

This is a letter from your PVH bedside caregivers. We are by your side every moment of every day during your stay at PVH.  We are your advocates. When we believe our patients are endangered by bad management decisions, unsafe staffing, or lack of resources, we have a duty to speak up. Our contract keeps you safe by allowing us to advocate for you. Your PVH Nurses have been trying to negotiate a safe contract for over two years. For far too long the Providence/St Joseph Health (PSJH) negotiator/lawyer has adopted an attitude of “my way or the highway”. Ask any Nurse attending negotiations. They will tell you just how little PSJH is listening to its experienced bedside nurses. That is dangerous.  

Let us tell you about the obstacles PSJH has thrown up, how those affect you and how they hinder caregivers’ ability to provide safe, quality patient care at PVH.

Unsafe Staffing

For years Nurses have begged PVH management to staff safely. To do that management must staff to an accurate acuity system.  Some years ago, Nurses put in their contract that PVH must use an accurate, verifiable patient acuity system. The RNs use that system to give each patient a “score”. The score reflects the amount of care a patient needs each shift.  The higher the acuity, the more time and resources needed.  For awhile management used the acuity system. Then they stopped.  Lately it has been a constant battle between bedside RNs and PSJH to keep PVH in compliance with State regulations regarding staffing. Recently the California Department of Public Safety came in to inspect PVH and found that management was not staffing to the acuity system. That agency, CDPH, reminds acute care hospitals that “It is imperative that hospitals staff according to patient acuity…it is far more important that hospitals pay attention to the patient classification system (acuity system) and the needs of the patient rather than the minimum staffing requirements. Section 70217(b).” Only when the State cited PVH did management begin staffing to acuity and yet to this day, it is an unending struggle to maintain safe staffing. This is because management doesn’t listen to bedside RNs, even when they speak up, advocating for patient safety. Nurses know what is safe, they advocate for it and should not have to be in this constant battle. Currently PSJH is attempting to undermine those same safe staffing language protections in our future Nurse’s contract currently being negotiated over. 

There is another PSJH process that can lead to unsafe staffing. It is called Department Productivity.  Department managers are apparently encouraged to meet or exceed their ‘productivity benchmark’.  Reducing staff by ignoring acuity is a way for managers to meet department benchmarks   We encourage you to ask St. Joe management about these practices. PVH bedside Nurses advocate for your safety. Proper staffing is a must to ensure that safety.   Enough is enough! We have asked PSJH to stop inflicting moral injury on front-line caregivers.  Allow us to do what is right for patients. Stop shredding the long time and tested safety language built into our RN contract.

Lack of Resources

PVH is currently having great difficulty attracting or retaining high quality, experienced Staff RNs. Too often a newly hired RN stays just long enough to observe the mistrust and acrimony between the Nurses and administration and as they also come to realize that we are paid 23%-39% less than all other Sonoma County hospitals, they choose to leave. Then they are gone, off to hospitals that value their professional staff. Even some of our experienced Nurses have recently quit after having worked at PVH for 20-30 years. The amount of money spent on the hiring and training of new grads and orienting experienced Nurses is astronomical. Approximately $25-$40K. Not a waste of money IF you can retain them, but this is not the case at PVH. The high volume of Travel Nurses, contract RNs just passing through PVH, is a sign that something is really wrong inside PVH. It is not surprising that the morale among caregivers is at an all-time low. We want PSJH to listen to front-line caregivers at PVH. We want PSJH to make it right. Give PVH caregivers the resources we need and empower us to do our jobs well.

Contract Takeaways that Endanger our Patients

PVH RNs have not asked for any significant contract enhancements. But PSJH is insisting on big takeaways in the current negotiations. PVH RNs will lose hundreds of thousands in lost compensation and lost benefits if PSJH gets what it wants. We can’t keep RNs now, what happens if all our good Nurses exit when these shameful proposals become a reality. In addition, PSJH wants to favor Temporary Travel Nurses over their own core staff. Travel Nurses are “passing through”. Travelers should be only used on a short-term basis to fill staffing holes until core staff can be recruited and placed in permanent positions. PSJH is insisting on new contract language that will drive current PVH RNs out of this hospital.  PSJH would deny core RNs a dependable schedule and a dependable paycheck. PSJH wants travelers in leadership positions when they are not familiar with PVH, are not staying long and are neither vested in our hospital or our community. While we appreciate the travelers that come through PVH, they are only temporary and should not take priority over dedicated core staff. PVH Nurses cannot understand why management would want this for PVH. It seems that in the end it would not support their bottom line, costing more money picking up the pieces of a fragmented, badly managed, unsafe hospital.  Just seems so short sighted.  We ask you to help us stop PSJH efforts to do this.  It is eroding our community hospital.  Help frontline care givers press any PVH operator to grow our hospital, not endanger it. 

Providence/St Joseph Health wants you to believe they care about their frontline caregivers. You’ve probably seen or heard the latest campaign slogan “Heroes Work Here.” PVH Nurses need you to know what is really going on inside the Hospital walls. You have a right to know. As a community member, a patient or family member, you are directly affected by what goes on in your community hospital. PVH Nurses want Petaluma Valley Hospital to thrive. We need Providence/St Joseph Health to treat PVH caregivers like the heroes they tell you we are. Empty slogans will not keep caregivers and patients safe.  Nurses need real change in PVH. We need a contract that honors the work we do and helps us recruit and retain top notch RNs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Every word comes with our commitment to you. PVH Nurses ALWAYS have your best interest in mind. We have your back and we will advocate for you, always. We need your support to make Providence/St. Joseph Health do what is morally and ethically right for you, the patient, and for us, your caregivers.

RNs and all PVH front line workers will never stop fighting for your safety, EVER!

Please fight with us. Please email the executives at Providence/St Joseph Health and tell them to listen to front-line caregivers! Tell them to do the right thing! 

 

Tyler Hedden                                                                                                                    David Southerland

CEO St. Joseph Health, Sonoma County                                                                        VP of Operations for PVH

tyler.hedden@stjoe.org                                                                                                    david.southerland@stjoe.org

  

 

Thank you and with our deepest respect,

PVH Nurses

SIGN THE PETITION

Save the Family Birthing Center at Petaluma Valley Hospital

Providence and its affiliate NorCal HealthConnect are in negotiations with the Petaluma Health Care District board to purchase Petaluma Valley Hospital. The proposal must be approved by Petaluma-area voters on November 3rd in Measure CC. As a part of the tentative sale agreement, Providence has only committed to keeping OB/GYN services at Petaluma Valley Hospital for 5 years. 

We insist that Providence increase their commitment to keeping OB/GYN services in Petaluma for years to come. Without these award-winning services, large portions of our local community will be without nearby high quality medical care for moms and babies, and residents will no longer be able to give birth at their local community hospital.

Click the button below to sign the petition

 

PVH NURSES RALLY FOR OB UNIT 

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Click here to read the article in The Argus Courier

 

CONCERNING THE VOTE ON MEASURE CC

Listen to union leaders and staff from Petaluma Valley Hospital, including Jim Goerlich RN, President of Petaluma Staff Nurse Partnership, Tyler Kissinger, Organizer for National Union of Healthcare Workers, Registered Nurses Jessica and Lisa, and Mayor Teresa Barrett discuss the decision of the Petaluma Health Care District to move forward with the sale of PVH to NorCal HealthConnect, a secular affiliate of Providence St. Joseph. Find out why the caregivers at PVH aren't ready to support the sale of the hospital to Providence St. Joseph. Click the button below to stream the radio broadcast and hear this engaging discussion around a range of topics affecting the Petaluma community.

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE RESIDENTS OF PETALUMA

"Vote NO on CC!  Any campaign that only features hospital administration and local big wigs with no actual health care workers promoting it is a RED FLAG to me!" B.A. Oakhill, Petaluma

"For five years, Providence has terribly treated its nurses, let the hospital mold proliferate, and now expects to slide into ownership. The healthcare district has let Petaluma down by DOING NOTHING except for wanting big $$$$. ..... Petalumans may think they like the small, cozy town, but they are allowing a mega corporation to come in to their very own hospital and forever continue to degrade our Petaluma Valley Hospital. Vote NO on Measure CC for the sake of our PVH!" L.K. Kenilworth, Petaluma

"Thank you for sharing this information. I had already heard that the nurses were not included in any decision making in the hospital contract. There should at least be one representative of the nurses in any decision making. That would be giving the nurses representations which they deserve. It would not mean allowing the nurses to direct how the hospital is managed. No representation equals no ability to express a decision based on their knowledge of how the hospital is run. We have no need to support an autocracy or an oligarchy in order to have a hospital in Petaluma." - P.W. Walnut Park, Petaluma

"This program actually resulted in my changing the vote I was going to cast in the ballot I just completed. It was a good program. I encourage everyone to tune in and listen." - S.K. Oak Hill, Petaluma

"It's always a red flag to me when people engage in scare tactics. That usually means some big business is trampling the rights of others. In this case, the nurses." - M.S. Oak Hill, Petaluma

"Getting through the fog of obfuscation appears to be the first task for an informed voter these days! Count me in as a "no" vote on CC." - D.D. Oak Hill, Petaluma

"I am so glad this thread was started. I am working on my ballot now and am new to the area so I am undecided about CC until I learn more. Off to investigate further at Inside Petaluma 103.3. Thank you." - M.W. Oak Hill Petaluma

"Paladin passed after obstacles from Providence. Sebastopol has a much smaller community and they tried to run it on their own. The Sebastopol hospital is now an excellent sub-acute facility FYI. If Providence is out of the way then a better entity BE ABLE to come in. In any case, Providence has to continue for another 2 1/2 yrs so the hospital won't close. Providence has played this whole situation like a cello." - L.K. Kenilworth, Petaluma

"I think we can do better than SELL our hospital to a business that does not treat nurses with respect. We also need to continue to provide gynecological services to women for more than 5 years. This is another short-term fix with long term negative consequences. Vote NO on Measure CC And I am not a nurse, and have never been one - but I think it is insane to lose control of our hospital." - B.A. Oak Hill, Petaluma

 

 

PETALUMA NURSES ON THE RADIO!

PVH Nurses and our Community,

Below is a link to "Inside Petaluma".  It is a local radio show that airs every Friday from 11am until 1pm on FM 103.3.  PVH Nurses were asked to join them this Friday to discuss what is happening in PVH and what Nurses are dealing with around COVID19 and how we felt about the possibility of Providence purchasing our hospital. If you are local, you can of course listen live on Friday.  If you are not local, you can listen in by clicking on the link and if you miss the broadcast for some reason, you can still listen to the archived interview. They are logged chronologically which means our interview will pop up first.

Please forward the link or this email to your friends, families and neighbors. The more people who hear this message the better.

http://www.insidepetaluma.com

Thanks,

PSNP Leadership

PVH NURSES SAY THANK YOU!

 

 

 

From left to right: Jim Goelrich (PVH nurse and President of SNP), Holly Hamm (PVH nurse and mother of Koben), Koben Morgenthaler (Petaluma resident and author of the article to the right), Teresa Barrett (Mayor of Petaluma), Molly Luvender (PVH nurse), Lisa Martz (PVH nurse)

 

 

 

 

 

We asked, you listened! This was an article that appeared in The Argus Courier, written by the son of one of our very own PVH emergency room nurses. Thank you Koben!

 

"My mom is an emergency room nurse, and the hospitals nationwide are facing severe mask shortages. As a community, we need to recognize that it is in our best interest to prevent our doctors and nurses from contracting COVID-19. This is a call to donate N95 masks you may have to the healthcare workers in our area.

In these uncertain times, looking to countries where COVID-19 has been spreading for longer can give us insight into what to expect in our future. If this is any guide, one thing should be abundantly clear. In countries like Italy, healthcare systems are being completely overwhelmed.

Even with an optimistic view towards the impact of social distancing, healthcare resources and staff will be the bottleneck our community faces. Healthcare workers are on the front lines of this pandemic. If they get sick, the already understaffed hospitals will be even more strained.

If this reaches a sufficient pitch, difficult choices will have to be made. The hard truth here is that these masks work, that is why it is so critical for healthcare workers to have them. IT is also why, in a pandemic, they are the last thing people want to give away.

Even if you can donate just a few, however, you will have an impact. Preventing a healthcare worker from contracting COVID-19 is probably one of the highest impact, most altruistic actions you can take right now. We all want there to be an abundance of nurses and doctors if we or our loved ones come down with the virus; giving N95 masks, along with social distancing, are the actions we can take right now to ensure our healthcare systems remains robust.

Please go to www.snponline.net for drop-off locations. Thank you!"

Koben Morgenthaler

Petaluma

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Mayor Teresa Barrett Supports PVH Nurses

IN LOVING MEMORY OF ANNETTE SANTARINI

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PVH RNs Held Hostage