Nurses at Ascension St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet have been working without a contract since July. Nurses says the staff is stretched thin and they keep losing nurses. Today marks their second day of their 2-day strike, but they are locked out for a total of four days by Ascension who claim they have to contract with out of state nurses for a total of four days.
Currently there are 500 nurses working at the hospital down from 850, five years ago. They have lost 350 nurses.
According to spokesman with Illinois Nurses, John Fitzgerald, “Ascension has closed multiple units at the hospital, without required notice to the state Hospital Review Board. Dozens of complaints have been filed with IDPH about safety and short staffing and related legal violations. IDPH has demanded compliance plans from the hospital, but they are still out of compliance, and in violation of state law around safe hospital staffing.”
It has been a year since nurses in the ICU and ER refused to accept incredibly dangerous staffing assignments that would have harmed patients. Ascension issued those 10 nurses Final Warnings.
Staffing at the hospital has continued to deteriorate since then, and the collapse has accelerated as of late. Pay checks are still messed up, and pay is still missing. A federal wage theft lawsuit is still pending.
St. Joe’s nurses have been bargaining since May. A federal mediator was called in to steer negotiations in August.
According to Fitzgerald, “The staffing crisis is accelerating – as an example on a Sunday night about a month ago, 8 units were 2 nurses short each. Nurses wouldn’t refuse admissions though, because of how that would impact their coworkers in the ER, and the dangers that would pose to those patients.”