A group of about 400 nurses at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu have entered the third day of a weeklong strike to demand higher wages, an end to mandatory overtime and improved staffing ratios. The nurses began picketing outside the hospital on Sunday, January 21st, calling for administrators to address issues that have been ongoing for years.
Pay Disparity and Mandatory Overtime Take Toll
The nurses argue that they receive lower pay than nurses at other major Honolulu hospitals, despite having similar levels of experience and responsibility. Nurses also report that they are frequently required to work overtime, often with little advance notice, leading to burnout and high turnover.
In addition to concerns over pay and overtime, nurses report that staffing levels are often inadequate to provide optimal care, especially for high-risk patients. “There are shifts where we have one nurse for every five or six babies in the neonatal intensive care unit,” said Kimo Keliipuleole, a nurse specializing in neonatal care. “That makes it very difficult to give these vulnerable babies the attention they need.” Hospital administrators counter that staffing levels meet or exceed national standards. However, nurses argue that these standards do not always account for factors like patient acuity that can impact the level of care required.
In response to the strike, Kapiolani Medical Center has brought in temporary nurses to maintain normal hospital operations. However, local news reports that some patients and visitors have complained about the increased noise from the picketing nurses outside the hospital. Nurses, nationwide, have a lot to say about that.
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As the strike continues into its third day, negotiations remain stalled but hospital administrators say they hope to reach an agreement soon.