Essentia Health nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association will hold an informational picket outside of the new St. Mary’s Medical Center Friday amid ongoing staffing concerns at the health system.
On Tuesday, nurses gathered to make picket signs at the new MNA Duluth office in the Labor Temple.
“When hospital executives refuse our patients the safe level of skilled staff they deserve, it drives nurses away from the bedside and puts our profession and our healthcare system in jeopardy,” said Chris Rubesch, RN at Essentia Duluth and MNA First Vice President. “It takes more than a building to care for our patients, our neighbors, and our community. Nurses are ready to do the work, and we hope our hospital executives will finally work with us to put patients before profits in our hospitals.”
The informational picket comes as hospital executives at Essentia Health continue to ignore nurses’ calls for the safe staffing levels needed to ensure quality patient care in the Northland. Last year, MNA nurses at Essentia and throughout Minnesota fought for new contracts to improve staffing to retain nurses and protect patient care. While hospital executives refused the solutions needed, nurses won limited concessions meant to give them more input in the staffing process.
But more than six months after the new contract was ratified, Essentia executives have refused to accept even this limited input from nurses on the disastrous staffing levels that are driving nurses away from the bedside and putting patient care at risk. Now, Essentia executives are doubling down as they prepare to open a new facility, proposing dramatic cuts to the number of nurses scheduled for each shift even as the number of patients increases. Decisions about staffing levels are not being made by managers in our hospitals, but are being dominated by out-of-touch, out-of-state executives with no connections in the local community.
As the crisis of retention and care gets worse in our hospitals, executives continue to push disastrous corporate healthcare policies that put their bottom line ahead of the bedside. Hospital executives at Essentia Health, St. Luke’s and M Health Fairview are pursuing mergers while CEO compensation skyrockets. In 2020, Essentia CEO David Herman took a $1 million raise, and now takes home $2.7 million in compensation each year.
Friday’s informational picket is not a work stoppage; nurses will not be walking off the job to participate in the picket, and hospital operations will not be affected by the action.
-- MNA press release