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From a health standpoint, the safest place to be in Sacramento on December 1, 2004 was the state Capitol Building, where 2,500 RN's and healthcare workers met to protest Governor Schwarzenegger's November 4th announcement delaying further implementation of nurse/patient staffing ratios. Not so safe, apparently, are the hospitals where optimum staffing ratios remain unmet.

Angered by Schwarzenegger's delay until 2008 of a statute requiring a nurse to patient ratio of 1:5 on medical and surgical wards, one speaker said: "If we have a shortage of police, do we stop enforcing some of our laws? If we have a shortage of firemen, do we stop responding to every fire? A shortage of R N.'s should not mean we compromise patient care!"

CNA (CA Nurses Association) Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro acknowledged the R.N. shortage, but asked: "If Kaiser can meet the ratios, why can't Sutter? Why can't CHW? Why can't the UC hospitals?" The CNA plans to sue the California Office of Administrative Law to stop the changes in the staffing ratios law.



After much lobbying and active participation by nurses at events such as this, the Nurse Staffing bill, AB 394, was signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis on October 10, 1999. To give the hospital industry time to meet the new standard, the law did not come into effect until January 2004. Now, after nearly a year of implementation, hospitals claim they've been forced to close nursing units because of inability to meet the ratios. Gov. Schwarzenegger responded to hospital pressure by choosing not to uphold the law.

Other politicians, such as State Treasurer Phil Angelides (at podium), aligned himself with the R.N's. Thanking nurses for the honorable career path they've chosen, Angelides urged the crowd to go to his website, standingupforcalifornia.com and sign the petition found there, calling on the governor to uphold the staffing law.

"The U.S. is the richest society in human history--- when it comes to providing health care, we can do better!"





Amy Bragg, former LVN and now R.N., is an SEIU Local 250 member at Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, California.

As a new R.N., Amy stated that with the current nursing ratios "There is still not enough time for LVN's or R.N.'s to provide good patient care."

Speaking as a Local 250 member, she said "We've been working without a contract for a month--We want a unified contract for all the Sutter hospitals!" SEIU Local 250 members at twelve Sutter hospitals in Northern California went on strike December 1 as contract negotiations stalled. Sutter responded by announcing a four day lock-out of striking employees.



Harvey Rosenfeld of the Foundation for Tax Payer and Consumer Rights instructed the crowd on the nature of heroism. "Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a hero-- he's an action figure! For him, everything is "Fantastic!".But saying everything is "Fantastic" doesn't make it so--It isn't "fantastic" for people waiting for care in hospital rooms. It isn't "fantastic" for people awaiting medical attention in hospital Emergency departments!"

"You, the nurses and health care providers are the superheroes, not Arnold!"


  R.N.'s who work for the State of California in places like prisons, state hospitals and the California Youth Authority are represented by SEIU Local 1000. They were here today to support staffing ratios and protest Governor Schwarzenegger's failure to uphold the law.
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