Nurses’ union protests outside Washington Hospital

At least one nurse and several officials with the California Nurses Association held a small protest rally outside Washington Hospital today. While the nurse mainly talked about staffing concerns, the union officials said that hospital administrators ruled through fear and intimidation.

“They run this place like a mafia family,” said Tim Jenkins a Labor Representative for the California Nurses Association. “You step out of line and they take care of you.”

Jenkins and a few other protesters were joined by Dr. Evelyn Li, a candidate for the hospital’s board of directors. Li, a cardiologist who had worked at Washington, helped fund the documentary film, “Life for Sale,” which alleged the hospital released patients who were too stick to go home and retaliated against doctors who challenged hospital administrators.

Michelle Reed, who identified herself as a part-time Washington nurse, said her issue is that nurses sometimes feel obliged to forgo their state-mandated 30-minute lunch break and two 15-rest breaks because the hospital doesn’t provide proper coverage. Instead of assigning “break nurses,” who have no patients of their own to cover for nurses on their rest periods, Washington assigns nurses who already have a full load of patients, Reed said.

The upshot, according to Reed, is that nurses think twice about taking their breaks if they know their patients are in bad shape and the covering nurse has twice as many patients as he/she would otherwise have. “We’re trying to keep our patients safe,” she said. The administration has never pressured her to not take her breaks, Reed added.

Reed was joined by Connie Thomas, who said she had worked as a nurse for 39 years before retiring from Washington in 2005. Thomas said the lack of nurses to cover for breaks was her main reason for attending the rally. When I asked her about allegations made by the union officials at the rally and by doctors in the film that Washington administrators used fear of retaliation to keep employees in line, she replied:

“A lot of the nurses have to fly under the radar. They feel external pressure from management not to be verbal about work conditions.”

While I was at the rally, from about 10 to 10:30 a.m., Reed and Thomas were the only people who identified themselves to me as nurses who had worked at Washington. There were maybe 10 protestors standing on the sidewalk of Mowry Avenue. I will post Washington’s reply in a couple of minutes.

Below is a picture of Reed (left) and Thomas (right) that I took at the rally:

Matt Artz


  1. I have been with washington hospital for almost 5 yrs,i have never been pressured by the management or administrator to be out of line when i encountered mistakes in my profession.As far as I am concen we are in a BLAME FREE ENVIRONMENT. The truth is those nurses that are not being supported by management or administrators are those nurses that hides there mistakes..which I believe that it ,is a Zero tolerance when it comes to patient safety.i had encountered problems with management …the truth set me free..what i mean as long as you acknowledge your mistake and you are willing to learn from it…management forgets and everybody moves on to give the best of quality care we can give.

    as far as break times, yes i will admit that sometimes the 2 15 minutes break are seldom being taken because it was our own choice..because we want to go home in time with our family and most of all ,to deliver the quality of care we can provide to our patients by making it sure that there needs are being met in a timely manner.

    We strive for excellence but sometimes there are some instances that we cannot control because of regulations that set up the system.system fails at times,that’s why we have to work hand in hand for the betterment of our patients.

    Nurses are all matured individuals,the problem I see is that they sometimes dont verbalize there concerns as a group..an individual cannot make it..but if evryone will speak up.. I do believe that managemet and administrator will listen.

    I had worked with different hospitals in my entire career for 15 yrs..I had seen the worst..and it is not washington hospital.We are facing a lot of dilemmas at this point but God knows each individual had been working hard to put back our good reputation.

    To Dr Li,you had once served washington and yet the reputation you had given to your patients was not competent…If you are really an advocate for the patients..instead of showing the film and spend almost 1 million dollars…there’s a lot of people out there who does not have insurance at all…you should have just donated the money and send them to washington Hospital and if they were not treated properly …then that’s the time you come out and say what you want and probably you will get some sympathy…but then you just showed to the public that your intention is not for your patients but for your own personal gain.

    To all washinton hospital employees… Let us all work hand in hand to show to the public that We Care.. We have the Hands,The Mind and Most of all The hearts to care for everyone.

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