- Some 15,000 nurses and other medical workers at HCA Healthcare hospitals in Florida and Nevada are starting negotiations for new contracts, according to a release from Service Employees International Union.
- Contracts covering workers at nearly two dozen hospitals in Nevada and Florida expire on March 31 and May 31, respectively, according to the release.
- In total, some 22,000 unionized HCA workers across the nation will have their contracts expire soon, according to the release.
Many unionized healthcare workers are negotiating new contract terms for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started as previous deals expire. In new agreements, they are focusing heavily on language around staffing and retaining employees, and other issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
Contentious negotiations have led to a number of strikes in the past year, including one this January among thousands of nurses at two New York hospitals: Montefiore Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Those nurses walked off the job for three days before reaching agreements over staffing levels in new contracts with the hospitals, according to the New York State Nurses Association, which represents those nurses.
At HCA hospitals in Nevada, workers are represented by SEIU Nevada Local 1107. In Florida, they’re represented by 1199SEIU Florida.
In a recent survey of members in Nevada, many workers expressed concerns about staffing, retention and the impact on patient care at their hospitals that they want addressed in new deals, according to the union.
“The reality is, against the backdrop of a national nursing shortage, exacerbated by a pandemic and continuing patient surges, our staffing is safe, appropriate, and in line with other community hospitals,” HCA-owned Sunrise Health System in Nevada said in an emailed statement.
Yet one recent survey of more than 1,500 HCA workers nationally found nearly 80% reported “unsafe staffing levels so egregious they directly jeopardized patient care,” according to the release.
Unionized HCA workers are also highlighting recent NBC News reports of Florida HCA doctors alleging patient care is worsening due to the system’s cost-cutting measures.
In one instance, anesthesiology errors allegedly resulted in a patient waking up while in surgery, according to NBC.