Nurses in Orange County protest staffing conditions at local hospitals

Orange County nurses are protesting against hospitals, saying staffing ratios are dangerously low and unsafe for patients.

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, December 24, 2020
OC nurses walk out to protest hospital staffing conditions
Orange County nurses held a protest Wednesday, saying staffing ratios are dangerously low and unsafe for patients.

ORANGE COUNTY (KABC) -- The support for nurses demonstrating outside South Coast Global Medical Center is clear. It was one of four protests at Orange County hospitals.

Nurses say that their safety and patient lives are at risk after the state allowed their hospital, part of KPC Health, to increase the patient to nurse ratio in the middle of a pandemic.

"So instead of giving us more nurses we got more work. Patients are going to die, nurses are gonna break, nurses are exhausted," says Karen Rodriguez, a registered nurse.

Nurses say that they are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, shifts go as long as 16 hours, four to five days a week, code after code, leaving them exhausted, waking up anxious in the middle of the night.

"It might be surge after surge and who knows, and they're not preparing for the worst," says Irene Brown, South Coast Global Medical Center ICU nurse

"I don't have any more to give when I get home, and that's really unfair to my family and myself because I just want to rest," says Vanessa Aguilar

She says it's also unfair to patients. Aguilar had this heartbreaking admission: Some may have made it if we had more resources.

A KPC Health spokesperson tells Eyewitness News they're working with partners across the state for more resources.

"We've asked the state to step in, the state today can ask the federal government to activate the medical corps and bring additional medical staff and nursing staff," says Jeff Corless, KPC Health Global Medical Center spokesperson.

Tired of telling his team there is no time for breaks, this ICU nurse says the California Board of Registered Nursing needs to step in, let students join the workforce.

"These nursing students are studying for their boards. Let them get in here and work and help us - that's i think a huge solution" says Joshua Ayou, ICU charge nurse.

Everyone at the protest says their community needs to step up, wear masks, and do their part to prevent spread of the virus so nurses can catch a break.

"It takes a village to raise up people to take care of each other," says Aguilar.

Organizers say they are likely holding these demonstrations weekly until they see some results.

In an emotional interview, an ICU nurse at Mission Viejo's Mission Hospital pleaded with members of the public to do their part to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.