North County health care workers protest temporary layoffs

Posted at 7:48 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 22:48:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Registered nurses and caregivers from both Tri-City Medical Center and Palomar Health protested temporary layoffs in the North County Monday.

A caravan circled Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside and the Palomar Health Administration building in Escondido.

The nurses and their supporters are calling for a withdrawal of temporary layoff and furlough notifications they received from their employers, as well as more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the nurses who are currently working with COVID-19 patients.

"We can’t even protect ourselves, we’ve been having to reuse our masks," said George Santiago, a trauma nurse at Palomar Health in Escondido. "We have the drive to take care of people, that’s our number one calling, but we want the hospitals to be helping us out a bit."

Santiago was not laid off or furloughed, but showed up at the protest to stand in solidarity with the nurses and caregivers who were.

"We are fighting for them and we're going to get their jobs back," he said.

A spokesperson for Palomar Health says it has seen a loss of $800,00 in revenue per day over the last several weeks.
Earlier this month Palomar health notified 221 employees that they would temporarily be laid off for 21 days. The time period will expire on Tuesday.

"Only three have been recalled," said Santiago. "That is unacceptable."
The spokesperson for Palomar Health could not confirm that number.

The layoffs included those who work on elective surgeries, which have been placed on hold, as well as outpatient services.

At Tri City Medical Center, the California Nurses Association says 24 registered nurses have been furloughed.
10News reached out to Tri City Medical Center, but our calls were not immediately returned.

"A lot of these people can cross train," said Santiago. "A lot of these people who got laid off they were willing to work in other short staff floors."

"As a hospital system we are committed to serving our community and keeping our staff safe," said Palomar Health Chief Medical Officer Omar Khawaja, MD in a statement. "We will begin non-emergent surgeries as soon as it is safe to do so which includes testing patients for COVID-19 and proper personal protective equipment for staff."