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UCLA Nurses Urge Hospital To Help Overburdened Staff In Pandemic

Patch logo Patch 1/13/2021 Nicole Charky
a clock on the side of a building: Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. © Nicole Charky/Patch Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif.

SANTA MONICA, CA — Registered UCLA nurses in Santa Monica are asking for the hospital to help overburdened staff members and continue care for patients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Registered nurses at UCLA and UCI called on hospitals Wednesday to protest the hospitals’ use of state waivers to circumvent RN-to-patient safe staffing standards, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses & United announced.

Nurses represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United are urging UCLA and UCI to staff for safe patient care, asking hospitals "not to use the pandemic as an excuse to put patients at serious risk."

"Under “expedited waivers,” hospitals can increase the workload of already overburdened nurses," California Nurses Association/National Nurses United said in a news release. "By the mere submission of a form, hospitals can require nurses in intensive care units and throughout the hospital setting to unsafely care for more patients at one time."

"For more than 10 months, since the pandemic began, we have been calling on UCLA to increase staffing to safe and adequate levels,” Valerie Ewald, a registered nurse at UCLA, said in a statement.

“I work in the dedicated Covid ICU at UCLA Santa Monica," Ewald said. "We are already stretched beyond our limits. I hate to even think about how increased ratios would affect our patient's outcomes in irreparable ways. UCLA has the resources to provide for safe staffing levels, if only they choose to do so."

“Since the start of this pandemic, nurses have been struggling to provide the highest quality of patient care despite very difficult circumstances,” said Angela Mayfield, a registered nurse in a medical-surgical unit. “Nurses have worked short-staffed for months. The patients are getting sicker and sicker and the pressure on the bedside nurse can be overwhelming. The thought of adding more patients to our already overburdened staff is very scary and could prove dangerous for us and our patients.”

Patch reached out to UCLA for more information about hospital staffing.

The safety and well-being of UCLA Health nurses, our other health care workers and our patients is our overriding priority at all times," UCLA said in a statement released to Patch. "We understand the anxiety created by the high volume of COVID-19 patients and associated workload, and we value our staff’s dedication to safe, high-quality, compassionate patient care."

"UCLA Health hospitals meet and in some cases exceed state-mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios intended to ensure safety, and we regularly make adjustments in individual nursing units based on acuity of patient conditions," UCLA said.

"Among many steps taken over the past few months, we have supplemented nurse staffing, cross-trained staff to different specialties and added support staff as needed," UCLA said.

"While this waiver provides important flexibility in our ongoing preparedness and surge planning strategies amid the increased number of COVID-19 patients, we have not had to invoke it since its approval by the state on Dec. 11, 2020," the hospital said.

As of Tuesday, Santa Monica cases were reported currently at 3,320 coronavirus cases. That is a 321 case increase over the last seven days, from Jan. 4 to Jan. 12.

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