Centinela Hospital Under Fire Nurses allege unsafe conditions

(Photo courtesy of the California Nurses Association)

IT News Wire

Inglewood’s local hospital is under fire from a group of 30 nurses who allege they are severely understaffed and sometimes forced to work 12-hour shifts without a break.

A similar situation forced more than 220 nurses to leave Centinela in 2020, according to the California Nurses Association (CNA), which represents 475 registered nurses at the Inglewood hospital.

During the most critical times in the midst of the ever evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Centinela is essential for the community health needs.

Nurses at Centinela say understaffing has left them overworked and is impacting patient care.

“When nurses work without being able to take a break they’re more likely to make errors, and that’s not safe for patients,” said Paige Egizi, a nurse who works in Centinela’s emergency room. “Sometimes we’re lucky if we get to run to the bathroom.”

Centinela Hospital Medical Center lost 226 nurses last year although many new nurses were brought in to help bridge the gap, a union official said.

Egizi said state-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios are routinely being compromised at the hospital.

“ER nurses who have critical patients should only be taking care of two patients, but sometimes we’ll have four — and that’s against the law,” the 30-year-old Palms resident said. “When that happens you can’t give everyone the care they deserve.”

California is the only state in the U.S. to legally require a specific number of nurses to patients in every hospital unit. Data from United Nurses Associations of California and the United Union of Health Care Professionals show the state requires one ER nurse for each trauma patient and one ER nurse for every two critical-care patients.

Centinela responds

In a statement released, Centinela stated; “Frontline workers across the country have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. And Centinela, the statement said, is a safety-net hospital located within one of the hardest hit areas in Los Angeles County.”

“Just like ours, hospitals across the country continue to face critical shortages of nursing staff, beds, and often medical supplies, during a strikingly high demand for hospital services,” the hospital said.

Centinela said it is “aggressively pursuing every potential source to find and schedule qualified nurses, including shift incentives for existing staff, registry, and travelers, often at extraordinary cost.”

Regardless of those efforts, many Centinela nurses have opted to leave.

“We lost 226 nurses at Centinela in 2020, and that’s not counting the losses we’ve had in 2021,” CNA labor representative Sandra Ocampo said. “They hired new nurses, but that still left us 60 short and we have 70 openings now.”

Centinela said the hospital and CNA reached a new three-year contract agreement over a year ago that included annual pay increases, free-of-charge health insurance and retirement benefits following months of active bargaining.

“While we do not agree with the manner in which the unions are choosing to communicate, we do recognize their right to do so,” the hospital said. “This activity will not deter from our focus on providing quality patient care to all members of our community.”


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