Nurses Picket Outside SLU Hospital | St. Louis Public Radio

Nurses Picket Outside SLU Hospital

Mar 11, 2013

Close to 100 nurses from Saint Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital picketed in the cold outside of SLU Hospital on Monday morning, saying they are required to do too much with too little staffing and insufficient equipment.

Marchelle Bettis is an RN on the trauma unit, and works with critical victims of stabbings, shootings and accidents. She says it's hard for her and her coworkers to do their jobs appropriately with the current staffing.

"In the past couple of months, we've had as many as three patients per nurse, which is not a safe number," she said. "It's difficult to care for three critical patients as one nurse."

"We've been keeping a log of some of the issues in reference to staffing, equipment - from nurses to ancillary staff," Bettis said. "We asked for an opportunity to sit down with them, but were denied that request initially."

Bettis says after nurses announced they were picketing, the administration offered to meet, but only with four nurses.

The picketing nurses were backed by the union National Nurses United and supported by the St. Louis branch of the AFL-CIO.

Both SLU Hospital and Des Peres Hospital are owned by Tenet Healthcare, based in Dallas, Texas. SLU Hospital released a statement saying:

"Saint Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital are committed to providing each patient with the highest quality of care in the safest possible environment.  While we remain focused on serving the healthcare needs of our community, we continue to negotiate in good faith. Our bargaining will continue this week, and we hope to successfully reach an agreement that is beneficial for both our nurses and our hospital."

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel