Sunrise, MountainView, Southern Hills criticized in SEIU report
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Staffing levels at HCA’s Nevada hospitals are 34% below the national average, according to a union report blasting “systemic understaffing” at HCA hospitals nationwide.
The union said it put patients at risk. A news release announcing the report said nurses and frontline workers witnessed short staffing that jeopardized patient care.
Nationwide, HCA hospitals are staffed 30% below the national average, the report notes. The report is based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released in 2021.
Nurses are now calling on HCA to increase staffing levels, improve wages and prioritize high-quality patient care.
The report was produced by the Service Employees International Union, the fastest growing union in North America. About 1 million nurses and other health care workers make up about half of the union’s nationwide membership. Local 1107’s total membership in Nevada is about 19,000, with 4,600 in health care, according to an SEIU spokesman.
The 77-page report was released Thursday to coincide with a protest in Los Angeles that included SEIU members from four states, including Nevada.
HCA — Hospital Corporation of America — operates Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, MountainView Hospital and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center.
A statement released by Sunrise Health System at 5 p.m. criticized SEIU’s tactics in releasing the report as the regular trading period begins.
“SEIU has a history of attacking and abusing community hospitals with cleverly packaged, misleading information and staged events designed for media coverage. The union’s report cherry-picked CMS cost reporting data that supported its narrative and simply ignored data that wasn’t there,” he said. See the full text of Sunrise Health System’s statement at the bottom of this story.
The report linked employee levels to burnout.
“We want to be the best nurses possible, but we are not staffed or resourced to give our patients the care they need and deserve,” said Jody Domineck, a pediatric registered nurse at HCA Hospital in Las Vegas for more than 16 years.
Staffing levels force “impossible, gut-wrenching choices,” Domineck said.
“Do I rush the child who is struggling to breathe, or do I help the child who needs more pain medication? It feels like playing a crazy medical strike game, running from the most dangerous crisis to the next. Some days we sit in the car at the end of our shift and cry because it’s so depressing when you’ve done your best and it’s still not enough. HCA must protect us so we can continue to protect our patients,” said Domineck.
The union points to HCA’s $7 billion profit in 2021 and says wages are inadequate.
“We are so short-staffed in the operating room and throughout the hospital that the staff is seriously burned out,” said Erika Watanabe, a board-certified surgical technician at HCA Hospital in Las Vegas for 18 years.
Watanabe said he was forced to work 19-hour days due to short staffing. “There are patient care technologies that have 18 patients in the queue. It’s not fair to the staff or the patients we care for,” he said.
“Despite all the difficulties, we helped our community and our hospital throughout the pandemic. Now HCA has to show up for us,” Watanabe said.
Statement from Sunrise Health System:
“At Sunrise Health System, we believe a strong culture of respect and collaboration among our colleagues is critical to our mission. We value all members of our care teams and provide a safe environment for our patients.
We strongly disagree with SEIU’s allegations. SEIU has a history of attacking and abusing community hospitals with cleverly packaged, misinformation and staged events designed for media coverage. The union’s reporting cherry-picked CMS cost reporting data that supported its narrative and simply ignored data that didn’t.
The reality is that our staff is safe, fit, and compliant with other community hospitals and applicable regulations amid a national nursing shortage exacerbated by the pandemic and continued patient growth.
Our hospitals are proud to receive multiple new accolades from Healthgrades, including each being recognized as one of the nation’s top 250 hospitals. We live our mission every day, committed to the care and improvement of human life. Serving the greater Las Vegas community and surrounding states, this translates to approximately 900,000 patient visits annually.
We look forward to these different tactics from the union as we begin our regular bargaining cycle with the union in the near future.
— Sunrise Health System