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Nurses Stage Caravan To Protest Possible Changes To Nurse-To-Patient Ratios At Palomar Health

A car drives by the emergency room at Palomar Health Center Escondido with a person holding a sign out of the window, Dec. 29, 2020.
Jacob Aere
A car drives by the emergency room at Palomar Health Center Escondido with a person holding a sign out of the window, Dec. 29, 2020.

Registered nurses and caregivers held a car caravan protest at Palomar Health facilities in Escondido Tuesday to voice their anger toward a state waiver the hospital received that could increase nurse-to-patient ratios.

Among those using their car horns to send a message was Sue Phillips, a registered nurse at Palomar Health Escondido and a member of the California Nurses Association. She said a change to staffing ratios poses a health risk to both staff and patients.

Nurses Stage Caravan To Protest Possible Changes To Nurse-To-Patient Ratios At Palomar Health
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

“More nursing staff decreases mortality. So, you can see that if they add more patients to an already full load for a nurse, it's just not enough time in the day to try and take care of people. And this is not the time for anybody to ask for waivers for nurse-to-patient ratios,” she said.

VIDEO: Nurses Stage Protest To Oppose Possible Changes To Nurse-To-Patient Ratios

This is the second protest held this month outside a Palomar Medical Center facility. On Dec. 11, nurses protested outside the hospital’s Poway location, where a single 12-bed mixed care unit was impacted by the waiver approval.

In response to Tuesday’s protest, Palomar Health released a statement which said:

“The waiver is approved by the California Department of Public Health and will only be used when necessary based on patient needs and volume. Hospitals across the state received the same waiver and many are already operating under these permissions. We will continue to do everything we can to protect our staff and remain prepared for our community.”

RELATED: Nurses Protest At Palomar Health Poway Over ICU Working Conditions In Pandemic

Phillips said she is worn out from the influx of COVID-19 patients and nursing shortages and is worried that increasing nurse-to-patient ratios would make an already bad situation worse.

“The most difficult part of my job is watching the nurses and caregivers give every single thing they can, and then to be slapped in the face by the hospital right before Christmas, right through all of this,” she said. “It is undeniably exhausting and emotional for me.”

Palomar Health says it is one of 170 hospitals in California that have applied for the same waiver.

Stay-at-home orders in the Southern California region have been extended. Meanwhile, nurses and other caregivers are not pleased with a waiver that could increase nurses’ patient loads. Also, we have an interview with the CEOs of Sharp Grossmont and Scripps Health on how it is handling the COVID-19 surge.