"The problem is we need to get some registered nurses in here, travelers in here, like they are getting in other states. How they are handling it is by loading more patients on us instead of getting traveling nurses in here to help us out," said Cheryl Juarez, a registered nurse at Dignity Health St. Bernardine Medical Center.
Nurses outside the hospital said the current nurse-to-patient ratios do not meet the level of care critically ill patients need.
"I have been here for over 20 years now and this is absolutely the worst staffing I have ever seen in my life," said Antoinette Lopez a registered nurse. "The patients' lives are in jeopardy on a regular basis."
Exhausted and frustrated after two years of dealing with COVID-19 surges, the nurse's union is urging hospital administrators to have a plan to staff and deal with extra patient care.
"We've turned over our third year of COVID and each time the surge comes. It's as if it's the first time. We are short on staff, we're overworked," said ICU nurse Erica Ashley.
On top of staffing issues, nurses are condemning a decision by the California Department of Public Health, which they say puts patients and their colleagues at risk.
"If we don't have symptoms, even though we are positive after five days, then we can come back to work," said Juarez.
California nursing shortage attributed to concerns about PPE, COVID risk
In response, Dignity Health said in a statement that reads in part:
"Every possible step is being taken to prioritize the safety of our nurses and all of our employees, while also ensuring we are able to treat the dramatic surge of patients at our care sites."