Health & Medicine

Sutter nurses in Roseville, Auburn hold one-day strike

Nurses at five Sutter hospitals, including medical facilities in Roseville and Auburn, held a one-day strike Thursday over staffing reductions and contract proposals they say would cut their health care coverage.

Nurses represented by the California Nurses Association began picketing outside Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital and Sutter Roseville Medical Center at 7 a.m. Auburn has 500 represented nurses, while Roseville has 1,000. The five locations have 2,500 nurses, officials said.

Dr. Stephen Lockhart, Sutter Health chief medical officer, said in an online labor negotiation update that each of the hospitals where nurses are on strike has contracted with an agency to provide fill-in registered nurses.

“Quality patient care will continue,” said Lockhart.

Nurses said that in contract talks on Monday, Sutter took a hard line in negotiations. However, Sutter said negotiation is a two-way street.

“Reaching agreement requires reasonable proposals on both sides,” said Sutter Health spokesman Bill Gleeson.

Among the main areas of contention are proposals that striking nurses said would force them to pay more for their health care costs, including lab work and diagnostic procedures.

“We are not willing to accept the significant health care cost increases being proposed by Sutter,” said Sandy Ralston, a recovery room RN at Sutter Auburn Faith.

Nurses also said nursing cuts aimed at increasing efficiency are causing patient care to suffer. Gleeson said that Sutter Health hospitals meet or exceed the state’s safe staffing ratios.

“We’re fighting for patient safety, we’re fighting against unsafe staffing,” said Jennifer Barker Tilly, an emergency room RN at Sutter Roseville. “We believe patients deserve better.”

In addition to Roseville and Auburn, nurse strikes were planned at Mills-Peninsula Health Services, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.