Tag Archives: California Nurses Association

City Workers Endorse Yee for Mayor

SEIU 1021 reject Lee, back Yee in Mayor’s Race

SAN FRANCISCO – Senator Leland Yee has landed the first choice endorsement of the largest organization of city workers – Service Employees International Union (SEIU 1021) – in his campaign for San Francisco Mayor. The move by the 54,000 member union is a complete rejection of the city’s top official, interim Mayor Ed Lee.

The endorsement comes after Yee has landed virtually every major labor endorsement in the race, including the California Nurses Association, California School Employees Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, Laborers International Union, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Communication Workers of America, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, among others.

Yee has also been endorsed by the major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and San Francisco Tomorrow.

“I am proud to be the labor candidate in this race and honored to receive the endorsement from SEIU 1021 and our city’s workforce, who run our city and provide us essential services,” said Yee. “SEIU 1021 represents some of our lowest paid and hardest working employees, including healthcare workers, nurses, and janitors. Together, we have fought to ensure greater transparency and accountability at City Hall and within state government. I look forward to working with SEIU as we move San Francisco forward.”

“Clearly, Leland Yee is the best choice to stand up for working families,” said Jim Stearns, Yee’s campaign manager. “Unlike some candidates, Leland doesn’t believe public employees are the enemy and he’ll fight for good-paying jobs and benefits for those who provide essential services to San Francisco residents.”

SEIU 1021 also endorsed John Avalos as a first or second choice and Bevan Dufty as a third choice.

SEIU 1021 was founded in 2007 when 10 local unions came together in northern California to form one larger, more powerful union. SEIU 1021 represents public service workers in cities, counties, courts, schools, private non-profits, special districts, public health care, and nursing.


Yee immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 3. His father, a veteran, served in the US Army and the Merchant Marine, and his mother was a local seamstress. Yee graduated from the University of California – Berkeley, then earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, and later served in various mental health and school settings. He and his wife, Maxine, have raised four children who all attended San Francisco public schools. Yee has served in the State Legislature, Board of Supervisors and Board of Education.

Read more at www.lelandyee.com


The latest from the Campaign Trail

I wanted to give you a quick updated from the campaign trail.

Help us build our online community – share this note on Facebook with your friends

Nurses Endorse Yee

Leland received the sole endorsement of the California Nurses Association – the bigges endorsement in the race to date.  “His record in areas such as mental health service, HIV funding, children’s health and hospital disclosure should make every San Francisco proud.”  Press release. Bay Citizen Story.

Building a clear vision for San Francisco’s future

And having a lot of coffee along the way!  This week, we held our 35th 20/20 coffee conversation about our shared future in San Francisco.  It feels great to see so many of you out on the campaign trail so early.  If you have not joined us for a 20/20 coffee conversation – come meet Leland and share your thoughts.  Upcoming coffee conversations.

Showing our civic pride…Go Giants!

We’re excited for the Giants season and really enjoyed being able to connect with other Giant fans and show our civic pride through the campaign.  Congratulations to our winners Zach Austin, Katrina Lezcano and Jonathan Louie and a special thanks to everyone who participated in our Facebook sweepstakes.  Join Leland on Facebook.

New team members

We’re pleased to announce several new members of the Yee campaign team – Anthony (Field Director), Laura (Field Organizer), Nate (Field Organizer) and Vince (Volunteer Coordinator)!  Help keep the campfires burning late at the Yee headquarters.  Donate.


Campaigns – especially in San Francisco – are won with an army of volunteers and supporters.  If you want to lend a hand, we would love your help.  We need phone bankers, canvassers and folks to answer the phone, Facebook captains, food for volunteers and staff working late and more. Can you lend a hand?


Jim Stearns

Campaign Manager

Keep the Momentum Going!

Just a few minutes ago, the California Nurses Association (CNA) endorsed my campaign for Mayor of San Francisco!

The endorsement from CNA, which has over 5,000 members in San Francisco, follows major endorsements in the last few weeks from the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)and Communication Workers of America Local 9410.

I am deeply honored to have their support.

Will you help us build on the momentum by joining our 20/20 advisory group today and donation $20 or volunteering 20 hours of your time to the campaign?  Donate.  Volunteer.

I will continue to work to ensure San Franciscan has affordable health care.  Our city has led the nation with important health reforms.  As insurance companies across California continue to raise rates and limit care – it’s essential that we do more, especially for our children and families.

To make these policy goals a reality, we need your support.

I’m inviting you to join our 20/20 advisory group.  Here’s how it works:

We are asking supporters to volunteer 20 hours of their time or donate $20 to help build a clear vision for San Francisco’s future.  Donate. Volunteer.

You’ll be invited to a small coffee conversation with me to discuss issues we all face as San Franciscans.  How do we improve our schools?  Make it easier for people to raise a family in the city.  What are the best ways to grow our economy?  How do we improve Muni?

Will you help us build on the momentum of the last few weeks and join our 20/20 advisory group?  Donate. Volunteer.

Thanks for your time and support.  I hope to see you on the campaign train for a cup of coffee!


Leland Yee

National Union of RNs is Founded!

Below David Welch, an RN from Chico California, gives his first-person account of traveling to Phoenix for the historic duty of founding the nation’s first union of, by, and for RNs.

You can read a good Reuters overview here and see the release here.

This is obviously a great day for labor, as we have a progressive/rapidly-growing/important new union in a key industry and social issue.  Also a great day for California nurses who will be able to take their efforts national…

On to David…

I’m writing from Phoenix Arizona where I just spent the morning with hundreds of nurses from around the country  finalizing the creation of the new nurses union that will transform health care in America: National Nurses United.  Nurses and leaders from The California Nurses Assn./National Nurses Organizing Committee, the United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Assn are meeting to create a new union that will stretch from coast to coast and unite 150,000 nurses into a powerful force for our profession and our patients.

At the opening reception last night the excitement was palpable as nurses from many states shared their happiness at the step we were about to take.  Here are just a few quotes:

From Jean Ross of the UAN and now co-president of the new NNU:

This is where we need to be, together as one, moving across the country.  some of us have been waiting our whole careers for this

From Karen Higgins of the Massachusetts Nurses Associaton and another new co-president:

This is a dream come true for all of us.  I believe staff nurses are the voice for patients and nurses across this country.

From Deborah Burger of CNA/NNOC and the third co-president:

We have got our work cut out for us when this convention is over, to make sure we organize evry single direct care RN in this country.  RNs and our patients deserve to have a national nurses movement that can advocate for them.  

We still have a long way to go before we can bring all nurses into a single organization and a single political force, but today we took the first giant step in that direction.  Today we brought 150,000 nurses under one organizational umbrella with a single goal and philosophy: National Nurses United.

The business meeting this morning became more of a festival as the delegates from across the country voted unanimously to establish our constitution, confirm our officers and declare the existence of our new organization.  We had the thrilling experience of hearing from one of the greatest speakers in the American Labor movement: Stewart Acuff of the AFL/CIO.  Stewart’s speaking style comes out of the great tradition of southern church oratory and he outdid himself today.  He had that room full of nurses on our feet over and over, chanting, roaring approval and often with tears in our eyes.  He exhorted us to set our sights high – not only to organizing nurses for collective bargaining, but to pass the Employee Free Choice Act:

The greatest economic stimulus would to be restore to the working men and women of America the right to bargain collectively for their fair share of the fruits of their labor

And to continue to work for real health care reform:

so that access to quality health care is a human right, not an investment opportunity for the rich

After Stewart, our neighbors to the north, in the person of Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses, also came to show their support and offer their help.  Linda is a great speaker in any normal company, but had the unenviable task of following Stewart.  She rose to the occasion and left us on our feet and dancing.

And tonight, we’ll finish the night with a great party.  Tomorrow, setting the tone for the new organization, we will be demonstrating outside the Arizona Hospital Association.  We’re serving notice to our employers that we are here with new force, new strength, new energy and that we will be spreading out across America in the weeks and months to come, organizing thousands of nurses with the very clear goal of transforming healthcare in America.

We nurses know as well as anyone that whatever is passed in the next few weeks in Washington is not going to be the final answer to America’s healthcare crisis.  At best, it will make some improvements and be a step on the road.  The overriding goal of our new organization is to reach the day when every patient has equal access to quality care, every nurse can advocate for their patients’ needs without fear and American health care is controlled by care givers, not bean counters.

So…What about single-payer and SB 810?

( – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Does passage of a bill that funnels millions of additional Americans into the private insurance system, and the decision of House leaders to shut down debate on one single payer amendment and scuttle another, mean the end of the years of efforts by single payer activists to win the most comprehensive reform of all?

Does it mean the end of SB 810, even once Governor Schwarzenegger has wandered off the stage?

For the nation’s nurses and the many grassroots activists, the answer is clearly no.  And we’ve got work to do.

In discussions and organizing, now occurring coast to coast, including a strategy conference this weekend in St. Louis hosted by Healthcare-NOW, many are charting a new course that turns next to the U.S. Senate, to the Senate-House Conference Committee, and then to state capitols from Sacramento to Harrisburg where vibrant single payer movements and campaigns continue to grow.

Most single payer advocates acknowledge some important reforms in the House bill, especially the expansion of Medicaid to millions of low income adults, increased regulation of the insurance industry, expanded public health funding for community programs for low income families, and a more progressive tax plan than the onerous tax on middle income health benefits proposed in the Senate.

But those who dismiss the weaknesses, coupled with the overhyped rhetoric comparing the bill to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s or passage of Social Security and Medicare, should be wary of the backlash when millions of Americans continue to face health insecurity and potential bankruptcy as their healthcare costs rise largely unabated and continue to experience denials of medical treatment insurance companies don’t want to pay for.  

As California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro has written

Social Security and Medicare were both federal programs guaranteeing respectively pensions and health care for our nation’s seniors, paid for and administered by the federal government with public oversight and public accountability

By contrast, the main provision of the House bill, and its Senate counterpart, is to expand health care coverage by requiring everyone to “have insurance” — mostly buying private insurance (since the public option is open to so few). Ultimately whether some want to admit it or not, a massive bailout worth tens of billions of dollars to the insurance industry.

Further, while Social Security and Medicare were both significant expansions of public protection, the House bill actually reduces public protection for a substantial segment of the population, women, with its unconscionable rollback of reproductive rights in the anti-abortion amendment.

To that end, tempering some of the triumphalism would be advisable. Equally unfathomable is the threat by some liberal groups to target single payer proponents Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa who voted against the anti-choice amendment as well as the full bill. (Massa, in particular, was elected with active support from the single payer community and took a principled stand in a swing district.)

Those who start down this road would do well to remember the nurses, physicians, and thousands of single payer grassroots activists who have carried the flame of genuine healthcare reform for years, and will certainly continue to make their voices heard, especially as employers continue to shift skyrocketing healthcare costs to workers and out-of-pocket costs eat up, by some accounts, 15 percent to 19 percent of family incomes.  

One of those suggesting that work must continue, even prior to the vote, was House Whip James Clyburn who told the Associated Press November 5:  

“I didn’t want anyone to think that if you don’t get everything you want in this health care bill right now, that’s the end of the game. What we need to do is lay a foundation. Get passed what we can pass that will have a meaningful impact on people’s lives – not put too many of our people in jeopardy – and then build upon it later. It’s a long road.”

For single payer proponents, the construction on that long road begins in the Senate now where Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce single payer language. As he said on Vermont Public Radio this week:

“I believe that a single payer system is the most effective way to provide comprehensive, universal, cost-effective health care. … (Without single payer) that ain’t going to happen. The health insurance industry and the drug companies are too powerful.”

Sanders is also proposing a federal exemption of legal barriers for states that opt to establish single payer systems, similar to the Kucinich amendment that was stripped out of the House bill by House leaders in the hours leading up to its final vote.

The reason for the amendment, Sanders notes:

“So that if states like Vermont or California or Pennsylvania – states that are strong in a single payer movement – want to move in that direction that they will be able to do so. And I think … what you will probably end up seeing is we will move toward a Medicare for all program when one state does it and does it well. And other states say, ‘You know what? That looks like the most cost effective, fairest way to provide quality care to all people.'”

You can help. Contact your Senator, (202) 224-312, and urge them to join Sanders in supporting this important amendment. That’s what a lot of us will be working on next.

16,000 CNA Nurses to Strike 39 Hospitals for Patient Safety

16,000 Registered Nurses at 39 Catholic Health systems hospitals across California will strike this October 30th  in an urgent bid to improve patient safety standards at their facilities, especially as the swine flu comes barreling down upon us.

This strike marks a continuation of a months-long effort by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) to raise alarms about inadequate H1N1 hospital safeguards, and patient sfety in general.  

In August, CNA/NNOC releaseda major report of a survey of 190 U.S. hospitals where RNs cited widespread problems with poor segregation of patients, lack of sufficient N95 masks, numerous hospitals where nurses have been infected, inadequate training for hospital staff, and punitive sick leave policies.

In particular, the RNs say, many hospitals continue to do a poor job at isolating patients with H1N1 symptoms and other steps to limit contagion, or provide sufficient fit-tested N95 respirators and other protective gear for healthcare workers and patients.

“Our hospital isn’t being proactive in preparing for the expected onslaught of H1N1 infected patients,” said Kathy Dennis, RN at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.  “We can’t get enough N95 masks, patients are not being properly isolated, and RNs are not being kept informed of the latest guidelines.  Last time I worked, It took me more than four hours to get masks when we ran out we ran out.  We must put the proper precautions in place now before flu seasons peaks or we will all be in serious trouble.”  

CNA/NNOC wants hospitals to formally adopt all CDC and Cal-OSHA guidelines to make them enforceable by CNA/NNOC contract provisions assuring the highest safety measures are met, are uniform, and consistently applied throughout the systems.

Another nurse put the problems this way: “When nurses are exposed to tuberculosis, the hospital notifies us. When nurses are exposed to head lice the hospital notifies us. Why then are we not told when we are exposed to H1N1? All staff have the right to know if they have been exposed in order to keep our patients from further unnecessary exposure,” said Carol Koelle, RN at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino.

The Wall St. Journal reports:

The union decided to strike after “an onslaught” of patients admitted to hospitals made negotiations more urgent, said Jill Furillo, who heads union bargaining with Catholic medical facilities. She said the union was mainly striking over safety issues: “This is not really about money.”

The union is asking the health-care systems to create a monitor position to ensure that staffing ratios comply with California state mandates. The union also said it wants hospitals to stop a practice called “floating,” in which nurses are assigned to areas outside of their expertise, such as an emergency-room nurse being assigned to labor and delivery.

A union official also said a few hospitals are seeking salary freezes, which the union is fighting, and some hospitals have proposed increasing employee payments for health insurance.

The LA Times adds:

Nurses have been demanding more protection from the H1N1 flu all summer, an association spokesman said, but became increasingly concerned after a nurse died in July. Karen Ann Hays, 51, a cancer nurse at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento, died July 17 of a severe respiratory infection, pneumonia and H1N1. Hospital officials could not confirm whether Hays, a triathlete and marathon runner, became ill at work.

While nurses have made a major focus on passing the Employee Free Choice Act, and removing the barriers that most RNs face in joining a union, this effort shows the power that a revitalized labor movement can have even before labor laws are-finally-reformed.

The responses by the hospitals to this strike should serve to make very clear why nurses had to take this difficult and brave step.  Their responses are: 1. Blame the messenger, 2. Deny patients need RN care, and 3. Cry poor.  All of which should serve to put both patients and nurses on notice that these facilities are in full denial mode.  More specifically:

1. The California Hospital Association spokesperson was trotted out to attack the nurses for daring talk about patient safety:

Jan Emerson, a spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association, said the union was “grandstanding” by raising the respirator issue.

2. A local spokesperson was charged with assuring patients that they don’t really need Registered Nurses:

Tobey Robertson, spokeswoman for Community Hospital of San Bernardino, said the hospital will take into account skill levels needed on the day of strike.   “You don’t always need RNs to replace RNs. It depends on the level of care,” she said.

3. Finally, patients were told by another local hospital spokesperson that they can’t afford safe care:

“Given the current economic environment and the challenges CHW faces, the CNA’s demands, if agreed to, would add to the ballooning cost of providing care and threaten our ability to meet our community’s needs,” the statement said.

1,200 Registered Nurses Celebrate Coming “SuperUnion,” Push Obama for Stronger Health Proposals

Far and away the most exciting industry for the labor movement today is healthcare-and the air of historic change was in the San Francisco air this week as more than 1,200 registered nurses from across the country gathered to plan their coming merger…and to advance their patient advocate’s agenda of guaranteed healthcare on the single-payer model and of genuine labor law changes to allow every nurse to freely choose her union.  The RNs are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and their guests from United American Nurses and Massachusetts Nurses Association.

The 1,200 nurses broke from their meeting to make a special house call to Dianne Feinstein, and deliver roses along with hand-written pleas for her to support the Employee Free Choice Act.  She’s in DC, but we’re sure she’ll get the message that we expect her to help nurses join unions and save lives.  That change alone will significantly improve our healthcare system.



In These Times reports on the coming RN SuperUnion and how registered nurses, together with the muscle of the AFL-CIO, will have the ability to inject a humane and pro-patient politics into our policy:

While lawmakers bicker and the public wades through a muddle of misinformation, the major nurses unions, particularly the California Nurses Association (CNA), are staking out bold positions on reform. Their efforts have culminated in a new union merger that seeks to align progressive nurses with other service workers as well as healthcare consumers.

As a critical link between physicians and patients, nurses occupy a pivot point in the reform debate. Alongside bread-and-butter campaigns on pandemic-flu preparedness and nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, the CNA has taken on universal healthcare as a labor issue, arguing that single-payer would not only serve patients’ best interest, but also make the entire system more economically viable.

The Wall St. Journal writes up how these pro-patient policies lead to nurses pushing Obama for better healthcare proposals:

At a conference for registered nurses in San Francisco, Geri Jenkins watched President Barack Obama’s televised speech with several others from the California Nurses Association. After the speech ended, the knot of nurses was left disappointed.

“You have to give him credit for standing up and trying to tackle the problem,” Jenkins said after it was over. “But it just needed to go a step further.”

Jenkins would have liked to see Obama’s plan place greater restrictions on how much insurance companies can charge consumers. Her 29-year-old stepdaughter, who was born with a heart condition, has gone without health insurance for a year because she could no longer afford the $7,000 annual catastrophic coverage.

Other nurses also felt the president’s proposals did not go far enough.

The San Francisco Chronicle let CNA/NNOC executive director sum it up:

“The problem with other solutions like the public option is that they leave in place the real problem: The insurance companies,” DeMoro told us.  

As the Washington Independent reports, those insurance companies are the subject of a new investigation by California Attorney General (and future and past Governor) Jerry Brown, after CNA/NNOC uncovered data that they reject on average 22 percent of all claims-and that jumps to 40 percent for the worst company, PacifiCare.

While the Christian Science Monitor notes the ongoing viability of the single-payer reforms nurses are dedicated to…it’s popular in the states and HR 3200 contains an amendment to empower states to that kind of experimentation:

The California Nurses Association was also instrumental in lobbying for an amendment, added by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) of Ohio to a House version of the federal healthcare reform bill, that would remove potential legal impediments for states to pass single-payer bills by waiving federal exemptions that apply to employer-sponsored health plans from the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)…. There are also strong prospects for single-payer healthcare in California, where the legislature has twice passed single-payer, only to have it vetoed both times by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Next week, we’ll be taking the fun to Pittsburgh where we will host the U.S. premiere of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story at the national AFL-CIO convention, and use the occasion to throw a huge single-payer party

Check out more pix here.

1200 RNs Make House Call on Sen. Feinstein–Weds, 1:00 p.m.

You would think that Sen. Feinstein would be a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, wouldn’t you?

Representing this state, coming from her city, in light of the broken union election system we face and the heartbreak it inflicts on American workers…she should.

RNs are especially invested in the Employee Free Choice Act because unionized nurses save lives, and because hospital owners are some of the most vicious, unethical, and criminal union-busters out there.

So tomorrow, 1200 RNs will make a house call to Sen. Feinstein’s house, demanding that she cosponsor this life-saving, long-overdue legislation. They’ll leave a rose with a personalized note explaining their story of how being a unionized RN has changed their life…or saved someone else’s.

Deborah Burger, RN, co-President of CNA  says:

“In the past, Senator Feinstein has said she supported the bill, but appears to be wavering.  1,200 RNs are making this house call to let her know that employers are trying to silence us when we advocate in facilities, and that patients end up paying the price for this union-busting.  Employers are breaking the law in their harassment of nurses, and we deserve a free choice and a fair chance to speak up for ourselves.”

Trade unionists and supporters are invited to attend:

WHAT: 1,200 RNs leave roses and notes demanding

          Sen. Feinstein sponsor labor law reform

WHERE: Senator Feinstein’s residence

            2460 Lyon Street in San Francisco

WHEN: Wednesday, September 9 at 1:00 p.m.

FOLLOWED BY: Nurses rally outside Feinstein’s office

                       One Post St., at 2:00 p.m.

CA-10: Polls Still Show us on Top, Public Option Remains a Top Agenda Item

Last night Survey USA and KPIX CBS 5 released a new poll showing that our campaign for Congress remains largely unchanged. With 25 percent of the vote, I still lead the pack, with Senator Mark DeSaulnier at 16 percent, Assemblymember Joan Buchanan at 12 percent, Anthony Woods at 9 percent, and undecided voters at 5 percent. This largely mirrors every publicly released poll since I entered the election.

Among Democrats, my lead is even starker: 37 percent favor me, 23 percent favor DeSaulnier, 18 percent favor Buchanan, 13 percent favor Woods, and only 2 percent are undecided. Most importantly, our great team of volunteers is effectively converting the support identified in the Survey USA and other polls into actual votes cast. Among those who have already voted, our considerable lead holds: 27 percent voted for me, 18 percent for DeSaulnier, 13 percent for Buchanan, and 10 percent for Woods.

Our lead holds among all demographic groups, including Obama voters, men, women, all age groups, all races, all levels of educational achievement, and all income levels. Our support is broad based and diverse. As the only candidate who has represented all corners of the 10th Congressional District, the voters know where I stand. As CBS 5 explained, “DeSaulnier and Buchanan have failed to make inroads since CBS 5’s last poll 16 days ago.”

Clearly, with Election Day fast approaching this Tuesday, we like where we stand.

The poll explains the what, but it fails to explain the why. I’m proud of the campaign we’ve run. We’re convinced the polls are a reflection of voter support for a positive issues-based campaign that has emphasized solid Democratic principles and experience that can deliver results.

Health care over the flip…

We’ve made it clear that the 10th Congressional District will be represented by a proven Democrat unafraid to stand up to the insurance companies, unwavering in the need for a public option in health care reform, and undeniably committed to advancing single-payer Medicare for All health care as the long term solution to our broken health care system. Today our campaign released a new podcast on health care policy, and I’d encourage you to take a listen. You can also visit our health care issue page for a more thorough rundown of where I stand on the key issues surrounding health care.

I have the endorsement of the California Nurses Association, and the largest progressive weekly in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, called me “California’s first and best insurance commissioner” for a reason. I took on the insurance companies and turned the agency into the best consumer protection agency in America. I was also a persistent advocate for universal health care and many of the principles I laid out in my first term in office became the health care blueprint Bill Clinton used in his 1992 presidential campaign. During the 1992 Democratic convention, I had the honor of being invited by President Clinton to be the primary speaker on health care policy, and in this campaign, I am proud to have received endorsements from President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and the region’s major newspapers.

On September 1st, voters in California’s 10th Congressional District will elect their new representative. For those whose passion is health care reform, it must be noted that my experience battling the insurance companies is not only unique among my competitors in this election, but it is unique among other members of Congress. We think the polls are a good reflection of where this election stands, and if so, our side in the health care fight will have a new effective advocate in Washington soon.

Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, a candidate for California’s 10th Congressional District, is the chair of the California Commission for Economic Development and a twice elected State Insurance Commissioner. He stands with Dr. Howard Dean in demanding a robust public option. For more information, please visit http://www.garamendi.org.

Nurses Demand Stronger Swine Flu Safety Protections

Aug. 5 — More than a hundred CNA/NNOC registered nurses rallied on the steps of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center today with a simple message for the public: California and the nation’s hospitals are not prepared to handle the H1N1 influenza, known as swine flu, when it hits the country full force this fall, and frontline registered nurses, other healthcare workers, patients, and the public are all in serious jeopardy.


The rally came on the heels of several major swine flu events alarming to registered nurses. Last week, Sacramento registered nurse Karen Hays became the first healthcare worker to die of the virus. She had been a fit, 51-year-old athlete, and her family suspects she was exposed while at work. Also last week, a registered nurse at UCSF claims she was not informed a patient she was treating had swine flu, then was fired for speaking up about swine flu after she began exhibiting symptoms. Last month, registered nurses at Sutter Solano Medical Center filed a complaint with Cal-OSHA about the hospital’s failure to provide and fit them with proper N-95 respiratory masks though RNs are caring for swine flu patients.

“The hospitals in California don’t have plans, they don’t know what they’re doing,” said Jill Furillo, RN and CNA/NNOC’s Southern California director.

Preliminary surveys by CNA/NNOC and interviews with RNs reveal that hospitals lack consistent policies to deal with swine flu, and even if they do have policies, employees are not educated about following them or provided and fitted with the proper equipment, such as N-95 masks, to do so.

At UCSF, Erin Carrera, a recovery room RN, said that coworkers are having trouble finding masks when they need them. Also, RNs are not always explicitly informed about a patient who likely has swine flu. “When patients are coming up from the emergency department, there are certain symptoms that should automatically trigger they be put in isolation,” said Carrera. “But that’s not happening.”

James Darby, RN and chief nurse representative at UCSF, said it was appalling that hospitals are actually punishing RNs who are speaking up about being inadequately prepared. “If you complain, if you speak out, if you speak up about adequate materials that we need to take care of our patients, if you speak up about more staffing to take care of our patients, UC’s message is that they will retaliate,” said Darby at the lunchtime rally. “My message to UC is that you may retaliate, but the nurses will not stop advocating for our patients.”

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