In a bold stand against what they're calling unsafe working conditions, Ascension Seton nurses in Austin are preparing to strike on December 6. Spectrum News 1 reports that the hospital has been dinged by the National Nurses United for a laundry list of issues ranging from the lack of basic supplies like IV pumps and thermometers to sketchy hospital phones crucial for shift communication to hitting the controversial note of proposing nurses with minimal experience take on critical 'charge' roles.
Not just an Austin ailment, Ascension hospitals across the board seem to be taking hits. The nurses at Ascension via Christi in Wichita, Kansas, are also raising the red flag for a similar strike. They've voiced serious qualms over potentially perilous policies such as floating nurses to units outside their expertise—a practice that could have nurses handling cases they're ill-equipped for according to a report from National Nurses United. The nationwide scrutiny of Ascension's modus operandi has sparked a vivid conversation on the state of patient care within the second-largest, and possibly the richest, non-profit Catholic health system in the U.S.
While Ascension Seton management has expressed disappointment over the planned strike, stressing that differences should be settled "respectfully at the bargaining table," as per The Spectrum 1 News, the striking nurses have begged to differ. They reckon their protest is a necessary step to safeguard their wards, with one reportedly stating, "it's unbelievable that Ascension management, with its deep resources, is dragging its feet on basic equipment and supplies that would help us take care of our patients and ensure their safety," according to National Nurses United.
Not content to sit quietly in the face of adversity, these nurses' unions, having previously busted through union-resistant barriers, are unflinching. “Just about every shift, I’m running around trying to find spare, clean blankets to swaddle our newborns and thermometers to make sure our patients aren’t running a fever,” decried Kristine Kittelson as stated in National Nurses United press release, a postpartum unit RN at Ascension Seton Medical Center.