MNA: Essentia nurses to picket Friday amid staffing concerns

MNA Nurses Picketing in Duluth
MNA Nurses Picketing in Duluth(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 5:03 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Essentia Health nurses will be picketing again, but this time due to staffing concerns.

According to the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), Essentia nurses will hold an informational picket outside of the new St. Mary’s Medical Center on Friday.

The nurses are picketing amid ongoing staffing concerns at the health system.

On Tuesday, nurses will gather to make picket signs at the new MNA Duluth office in the Labor Temple.

“When hospital executives refuse our patients the safe level of skilled staff they deserve, it drives nurses away from the bedside and puts our profession and our healthcare system in jeopardy,” said Chris Rubesch, RN at Essentia Duluth and MNA First Vice President. “It takes more than a building to care for our patients, our neighbors, and our community. Nurses are ready to do the work, and we hope our hospital executives will finally work with us to put patients before profits in our hospitals.”

MNA leaders released the following statement:

“The informational picket comes as hospital executives at Essentia Health continue to ignore nurses’ calls for the safe staffing levels needed to ensure quality patient care in the Northland. Last year, MNA nurses at Essentia and throughout Minnesota fought for new contracts to improve staffing to retain nurses and protect patient care. While hospital executives refused the solutions needed, nurses won limited concessions meant to give them more input in the staffing process.

But more than six months after the new contract was ratified, Essentia executives have refused to accept even this limited input from nurses on the disastrous staffing levels that are driving nurses away from the bedside and putting patient care at risk. Now, Essentia executives are doubling down as they prepare to open a new facility, proposing dramatic cuts to the number of nurses scheduled for each shift even as the number of patients increases. Decisions about staffing levels are not being made by managers in our hospitals, but are being dominated by out-of-touch, out-of-state executives with no connections in the local community.

As the crisis of retention and care gets worse in our hospitals, executives continue to push disastrous corporate healthcare policies that put their bottom line ahead of the bedside. Hospital executives at Essentia Health, St. Luke’s and M Health Fairview are pursuing mergers while CEO compensation skyrockets. In 2020, Essentia CEO David Herman took a $1 million raise, and now takes home $2.7 million in compensation each year.”

Essentia Health released the following statement:

“Our staffing assignments are made in collaboration with our nurses and take into account our patient’s level of illness and their care needs, along with national benchmarks. Nurses are supported by the rest of the care team, so they can focus on our patients and work at the highest level of their training.

We are committed to ensuring our nurses are properly supported to deliver the expert care our patients expect from us, and this is illustrated by retention rates far better than the national average. Essentia is continuously exploring innovative ways to attract more nurses, which has helped us hire more than 800 nurses in the past year alone.”

Leaders say Friday’s informational picket is not a work stoppage.

Nurses will not be walking off the job to participate in the picket and hospital operations will not be affected by the action.

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