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Nurses at Palomar Health hit picket line Tuesday

Healthcare workers say they have been completely disregarded as Palomar Health continues with staff shortages, layoffs, outsourcing, and unsafe patient conditions.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Registered nurses and caregivers with Palomar Health hit the picket line Tuesday morning in Escondido, they say in an effort to improve staffing levels and patient safety conditions.

News 8's LaMonica Peters spoke to a former employee about being laid off from Palomar Health and tells us what the union is saying about the picket line.

Nurses say they’re concerned about nurse-to-patient ratios and patient care. But they’re also worried about outsourcing and layoffs so they’re making their voices heard on the picket line.

“I support the 110% going on the picket line tomorrow. They’re doing it because they want better change for the organization and for the community,” said Ryan Grothe, a former Palomar Health security employee. 

Healthcare workers say they have been completely disregarded as Palomar Health continues with staff shortages, layoffs, outsourcing, and unsafe patient care conditions. After hosting a town hall with community members last week, the CA Nurses Association held an informational picket line Tuesday morning at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido.

“During the deadliest pandemic in a century, Palomar laid off 200 nurses and other healthcare workers. It’s beyond insulting to hear an employer try to defend decisions like that in any way. Especially a public healthcare system that is tasked with caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Zenei Cortez, CA Nurses Association President.  

Since April, healthcare workers have been negotiating a new contract. Palomar Health says Tuesday’s picket line is simply a negotiating tactic by the union. Still, former employees say layoffs and outsourcing are taking a heavy toll on staff. Grothe said he worked in Palomar Health’s security department for 20 years before he and nearly a hundred others were terminated in September.

“It’s very sad what’s going on with the organization because it used to be such a great place to work but now there’s just no trust for the leadership,” Grothe said. 

Grothe said he has since found other full-time work but thinks people have to pay more attention to these healthcare issues that could affect them too.

“The community, come election time, when it’s time to elect new board members, the community needs to start getting involved,” Grothe said. 

The CA Nurses Association is also asking people to go to their site and sign a petition in support of their efforts. 

WATCH RELATED: Palomar Health nurses hold town hall concerning patient safety