HAZARD—Registered nurses at two hospitals operated by Appalachian Regional Healthcare, in Kentucky and one in West Virginia, will hold a one-day strike May 1 to protest hospital demands that include what they view as unsafe work loads, the extension of a wage freeze that began in 2011, cuts in health coverage, and other reductions in RN standards.
The one-day walkout, which ends May 2, will affect two of ARH’s largest facilities, the Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hazard and the Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, WV.
“Our patients deserve to be cared for by RNs that aren’t tired and worn out. We are chronically short-staffed and now management wants to mandate that RNs work more hours beyond our regular 12 hour shifts,” said RN Judy Moore, a 24-year veteran at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hazard. “It’s not right, they are asking us for more and offering nothing but takeaways in return.”
One key issue is the ARH’s demand the expand rules to mandate that most RNs be available to work additional 12-hour shifts during the work week, on top of their already scheduled work assignments.
The nurses will also protest hospital insistence that they pay up to 22.5% more for healthcare coverage over the next three years, and a proposal to combine their current sick leave, vacation, and holidays into one package that reduces and restricts how much time they are able to take off to spend with their families.
“It is impossible to provide safe care to the patient’s that we serve, without appropriate staffing and yet management has put forth proposals that will harm retention and recruitment efforts at ARH, which will make the staffing situation worse,” said Karen Barker, an RN at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital in Beckley, WV.
“In my 29 years of nursing I have never worked at a hospital where the workload for RNs is so brutal. We should not have to regularly work 14-16 hour shifts, trying to get all the work done, that was impossible to complete in a 12 hour shift. This is causing multiple errors, exhaustion, burn-out, and injuries to staff and under management’s current proposals it would only get worse,” Barker said.