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photo credit: Photo courtesy of National Nurses United

Nurses from Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital held a rally this week to demand the administration hire more staff and provide more resources. California is the only state with a minimum ratio for how many patients a nurse is caring for at a time.

Tamara Hinckley, an ICU nurse at Sutter Santa Rosa and member of the California Nurse's Association, said COVID has exacerbated the staffing issues. And that she's witnessed the hospital violate safe patient care laws, including those staffing ratios.

"We just really want to be staffed appropriately so we can take care of our patients at the level they deserve," Hinckley said.

Just this week she says she's received dozens of "Assignment Despite Objection" forms, a document nurses file when they believe their assignments are unsafe due to things like having to care for too many patients at once or having to take on too many roles.

In addition to nurses, Hinckley said there's also a need for more support staff, like nursing assistants or lift teams who move, reposition and transfers patients. Hinckley said not having this staff, impacts patients directly. 

"Just how awful to go into the hospital and develop a bed soar because there wasn't enough staff to be able to help turn you appropriately," Hinckley said.

A Sutter Health spokesperson said the hospital is quote "doing everything we can to support the emotional and physical wellbeing of our caregivers while working to meet staffing challenges head on." The hospital said its hiring and transferring additional staff, giving bonuses and remains prepared to care for patients.

Hinckley said the nurses have not heard from Sutter about their concerns and that the conditions are causing deep moral distress.

"We went into this because we want to take care of people and we want to help people through their illness and by the hospital staffing us the way that they do, we cannot take care of them in the manner that they deserve," Hinckley said. "It hurts."

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