LANCASTER – Registered nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital will hold a candlelight vigil this Thursday to highlight “deep concerns about chronic understaffing and retaliation against nurses who advocate for their patients,” according to an announcement by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.
“We love our patients and our community,” said Maria Altamirano, RN and chief nurse representative at Antelope Valley Hospital. “But patients are put at risk if nurses cannot take a break during their 12-hour shift or must work up to 20 hours straight because of short staffing.”
The “Candlelight Vigil for Patient Safety and a Fair Contract” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, near Antelope Valley Hospital (1600 West Avenue J) at the intersection of West Avenue J and 15th Street West.
According to the CNA/NNU representatives, nurses have met with Antelope Valley Hospital CEO Edward Mirzabegian and vice president of operations Nana Deeb on multiple occasions and spoken out at the public board of directors meeting on Jan. 29 to address the nearly 200 reports of understaffing that occurred during the height of the 2019-2020 flu season.
Nurses have been in contract negotiations with management since November 2019.
Nurses have also raised concern over the rising number of violent attacks on hospital staff, especially mental health nurses, CNA/NNU representatives said.
“When proper staffing is neglected, care becomes delayed and patients and nurses suffer,” Altamirano said. “We have seen nurses physically attacked – choked and knocked unconscious, leading to long-term neurological problems and PTSD.”
According to reports from CNA/NNU, understaffing is the number one underlying factor leading to violent attacks on nurses. Antelope Valley nurses have advocated for a workplace violence plan and committee during ongoing contract negotiations, as required by state law, but say the hospital’s plan falls short of state requirements.
CNA/NNU represents 950 nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital.