USC nurses call for increased staffing, begin 2-day strike

Local news

Registered nurses calling for increased staffing began a two-day strike at Keck Hospital of USC and Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital Tuesday.

Video recorded outside of Keck Hospital in the 1500 block of San Pablo Street just after 8 a.m. showed picketers holding signs as cars drove past. One of the signs read, “On strike for safe patient care.”

The decision to go on strike Tuesday and Wednesday was made in June, when nearly all nurses voted to authorize a walkout, the California Nurses Association (CNA) stated in a news release.

“USC doesn’t want to hire nurses. They refuse to hire nurses. We’re running on a skeleton crew,” RN Michael Simonton said Tuesday.

A virtual rally is also scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and will be streamed on the CNA Facebook page.

Nurses say the understaffing is impacting patient care.

“We don’t want to strike, but our patients’ safety is jeopardized by chronic short staffing and the hospital’s excessive reliance on outside contractors without the appropriate skill mix to provide safe care,” RN Joshua Duarte stated.  

Keck Medicine of USC has disputed the claims, saying that staffing levels have remained higher than required, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Hospital operations are expected to remain open and fully staffed during the strike, according to the newspaper.

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