Worker’s Correspondence: Nurses Speak Out Against Low Staffing and Poor Hospital Conditions

By Serran Soledad

Tribune of the People interviewed two nurses at Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC) in Ventura, California, about uncompromising staffing practices and poor work conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both nurses participated in a caravan protest Wednesday morning, which sought to hold local hospital administration’s accountable for their negligence that puts healthcare workers and patients at greater risk of contracting the virus.

“We are on the floor, we are considered the army of the hospital, we are considered the soldiers of the hospital,” one nurse told Tribune. “So when we’re out there we need the proper communication, we need the proper staffing.”

Around a dozen cars drove in the caravan to various VCMC campuses in Ventura and Santa Paula, honking with signs and posters taped to their vehicles.

The caravan was part of a nationwide call to action held by the National Nurses United (NNU), with thousands of union nurses and healthcare workers taking part in protest events across the country.

Among demands for increased staffing and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, Ventura County nurse’s have called for the hospital’s board of directors to put an end to the utilization of “ratio waivers.” The ratio was issued solely in the state of California, and allows hospitals to bypass a state-law previously limiting how many patients one single nurse can attend to at a time. The ratio has heavily increased nurses’ workload, and risk of contracting the virus.

“If they [VCMC] do this out of emergency right now who’s to say its gonna go back once the emergency is done? Or that it might not become worse?” said another nurse, foreshadowing plans for exploiting healthcare workers post-pandemic. “Oh now its not an emergency and you can already handle what we gave you, so here’s more,” said the nurse.

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