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USA: ‘Burnt out and tired’: nurses at leading California hospitals prepare to strike

Five thousand nurses at Stanford and Lucile Packard children’s hospital in Stanford, California, are preparing to strike in demand of wage increases, mental health and wellness support, better healthcare benefits, and a focus on hiring and retaining nurse staff.

The union has set a strike date for 25 April.

Stanford hospital at Stanford University in California has been consistently ranked among the top hospitals in the US by US News, but nurses say high turnover rates, understaffing, and inadequate proposed wage increases and benefits have contributed to high burnout rates. In a survey of union members, 45% of nurses reporting said they intend to leave their job within the next five years.

Kathy Stormberg, a nurse in the radiology department at Stanford hospital for 19 years and vice-president of the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (Crona), blamed the strike on the hospitals’ continued reliance on contractors and its policy of pushing nurses to work overtime amid staff shortages, unfilled vacancies, and difficulties retaining enough nursing staff.

“That is not sustainable,” said Stormberg. “Nurses have an overwhelming sense of guilt to work overtime when they are getting texts requesting nurses to come in every four hours on their days off.”

In January 2022, a nurse on a contract at Stanford hospital walked out of their shift and killed themself, highlighting the need for better mental health and wellness support services and for improvements to the poor working conditions that nurses have faced through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The working conditions that we have now are just no longer sustainable,” said Leah McFadden, a nurse in Stanford’s surgical trauma unit since October 2019. “Over the last two years, we’re starting to run on empty, we aren’t having a chance to decompress, or even just get away from the hospital as much as we should.”

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Source: The Guardian, 13 April 2022


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