Nurses United picket at UCMC over patient care, safety concerns

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of nurses are picketing outside the University of Chicago Medical Center Monday.

The nurses are protesting what they said is chronic short staffing, insufficient security, faulty equipment and patient care concerns.

"We are committed to providing our patients with the very best care possible on all shifts," said Johnny Webb, RN. "But it is simply impossible to provide the care we want to provide, when we are caring for too many sick patients, when we are forced to leave our patients to search for IV pumps and we are not sure if our patients or our colleagues are at risk of violence."

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The nurses are protesting what they said is chronic short staffing, insufficient security, faulty equipment and patient care concerns.



The group, National Nurses United, will also hold a rally to draw attention to their concerns.

The picket and rally is scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in front of Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine on S. Maryland Ave.

University of Chicago Medical Center released a statement that read:

"We believe contract issues are best settled through respectful and cooperative negotiations and that external posturing takes time away from the table. It's important to note that informational picketing is not the same as a strike and that pickets are a common tactic for unions and is part of NNU's playbook to gain attention across the country. The University of Chicago Medical Center remains committed to constructive dialogue and good-faith negotiations to reach a fair and equitable labor agreement with the NNOC/NNU that supports our nurses and enables them to do their best work.

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The nurses are protesting what they said is chronic short staffing, insufficient security, faulty equipment and patient care concerns.



UCMC has a deep respect for the professional practice of nursing, and we thank our nurses for their continued dedication to our patients and excellence in patient outcomes despite working without a contract since April, when the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement expired.

UCMC takes its commitment to staffing seriously and is proud to be a staffing leader in Chicago and the Midwest. UCMC rejects NNOC/NNU's core proposals to move our organization to fixed California-style ratios. We believe in evaluating our patients' acuity and needs on an individual basis, not based on predetermined fixed ratios that consume resources even when patients do not need them.

The data bear this out. Staffing on our units continues to average well ahead of the fixed ratios that NNOC/NNU advocates, and we remain a health care leader on staffing as shown by Illinois Hospital Report Card data published by the State. Case in point, our ICU averages 1.67 patients per nurse, rather than the 2-patients-per-nurse model suggested by the NNOC/NNU. More information on UCMC's superior staffing is posted on ucmcnurses.org.

In addition, UCMC provides nurses with excellent compensation and benefits that are above the industry average. Our nurses' average hourly rate under the current CBA is over $47 per hour. This is $11 more per hour than the average pay rate that their peers get at acute-care hospitals in the Chicago area. With even the opening wage package we have proposed, our nurses would remain at the top of the Chicago market. NNOC/NNU has not yet responded to our offer, which was made in June."


Hospital officials said patient care and medical appointments will continue as normal.
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