Getting past the stream of striking nurses to get into Children's Hospital Oakland should be the only impact on patient care, according to the top nurse at the hospital. More than 700 nurses voted to strike today, Wednesday and Thursday. In response, Children's Oakland put managers on the front lines and called in nurses from other states.
"We will have near-normal operations with nursing managers in charge of patient care and we're bringing in 125 traveling nurses trained in pediatric care," said Nancy Shibata, the top nurse at the hospital.
Since May, the hospital and it's unionized workers have been haggling over a contract that includes a pay freeze and increased health care costs to the nurses. In the last contract, nurses got pay increases, which the hospital administration says it can no longer afford. The hospital has lost $69 million in the last four years. There is a plan to get back in the black by 2012, but it requires concessions from it's nurses.
However, pay freezes and asking nurses to pay for some of their health care could cost the hospital more than money, according to one nurse. Susan Segal told NBC Bay Area, that it could affect the hospital's ability to recruit the best nurses.
"This hospital being able to provide the kind of care it has been, it needs to have the nurses there to do it," said Segal, who works at Children's.
Under the proposal on the table, one of the health care options offered to nurses would require them paying between $11 and $311 dollars a month for their care and the care of their dependents.
The nurses are planning a rally for the noon hour today.