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Palomar Health nurses hold town hall concerning patient safety

The nurses union says Palomar Health’s focus on outsourcing services puts patient care at risk and the staffing shortage is only getting worse.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Nurses and caregivers with Palomar Health say they’re concerned about patient care after a series of decisions made by the health system’s leadership. On Wednesday, those healthcare workers held a virtual town hall open to the community to discuss how they can be impacted by those decisions.

The union says Palomar Health’s focus on outsourcing services puts patient care at risk and the staffing shortage is only getting worse.

The CA Nurses Association and National Nurses United say they’re calling on Palomar Health to put their patients first as it restructures departments and moves bedside care away from hospitals into people’s homes.

“The term 'restructuring' sounds scientific and logical and like a positive improvement. Instead, we know what they are doing is money-driven healthcare and it goes beyond the mission of nurses, doctors and other healthcare providers, whose main aim is to heal people,” said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, National Nurses United President. 

The CA Nurses Association represents about 1,300 nurses and 1,700 caregivers at Palomar Health who are currently negotiating a new contract. The group says instead of hiring more staff, Palomar has laid off workers, giving nurses more patients but less time to spend with them.

“Palomar is using its time and resources, for example, to find ways to cut corners, services and staff which lead to dangerous conditions for patients and their families,” said Morgan Celaya, a Palomar Health MRI Tech. 

The union also says staff members have no time for breaks and are working longer hours. They say Palomar continues to apply for state waivers that will increase the nurse-to-patient staffing ratio, putting patients at even more risk.

“We’re seeing patients come in our ER and wait longer periods of time. They’re not getting care right away. I think they need to listen to the staff a little more," said Susan Adams, a Registered Nurse at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.

Palomar Health released a statement, saying:

“Clearly this is a negotiation tactic by the labor union. We continue to be disappointed by their smear tactics designed to gain the upper hand in their contract negotiations. We find their statements to be false, misleading and recycled. It’s unfortunate that they choose to bring their labor negotiations into the public arena, and we will not get into the mud with them as we are more concerned with and focused on providing the county and its surrounding communities with extraordinary health care.”

National Nurses United is asking for the community to support them by signing a petition online. They also said they’re planning a picket line next Tuesday at 6 am in front of Palomar in Escondido.

WATCH RELATED: Nurses push back against Palomar Health for proposing to increase nurse-to-patient ratio 

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