UC San Diego nurses raise concerns over hospital staffing after California ends stay-at-home order

Posted at 12:35 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 15:36:29-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Nurses at UC San Diego held a news conference Wednesday in Hillcrest to raise concerns about not having enough staff to care for patients especially those in the intensive care unit.

They gathered together to send a message to management letting them know they need help.

"It's very busy, we don't have time to do our jobs. We're stressed out. It's emotionally taxing, our patients are dying a lot of times especially in the COVID ICUs," said Michael Kennedy, an ICU nurse.

Right now, UCSD is following California's rules for nurse-to-patient ratio: one nurse taking care of two patients. But up north, that’s not the case. Both UCLA and UCI Hospitals have applied for a waiver to operate below that ratio, something local nurses say is unacceptable especially as they’re struggling to stay afloat during this pandemic.

"We call on the state and the University of California to maintain appropriate safety standards," another nurse, Julie, says. "And not implement waivers for staffing requirements."

The nurses say they’d also like elective surgeries that can be put off to be postponed to help free up staff and resources.

In a statement, UC San Diego Health said, in part, that the hospital system has not applied for a staffing ration waiver and hope to avoid doing so:

"UC San Diego Health has been a leading COVID-19 care provider locally and statewide since the pandemic began. Patient care – and care for members of our community – has been and remains our first priority.

UC San Diego Health has taken an enhanced, comprehensive and innovative approach to protect patients and employees using multiple, overlapping measures guided by the best scientific evidence and public health authorities. These measures ensure best practices are in place. We are extremely proud of the exceptional care and service provided to our patients and the community by our dedicated team of physicians, nurses and staff.

UC San Diego Health has maintained appropriate and safe staffing ratios throughout the pandemic. We recognize that extreme situations elsewhere have prompted other health care facilities to seek additional tools to continue safe, effective care of their patients. However, UC San Diego Health has not applied for a staffing ratio waiver, and with the partnership of our community to remain masked and maintain social distancing practices, we hope to get through the pandemic without applying for this option.

At UC San Diego Health, we have invited 100 percent of our health care workers to be vaccinated. More than 10,000 employees have received their first dose and more than 6,000 have received their second dose. Moreover, in partnership with the County of San Diego and others, we have vaccinated to date more than 57,000 community members at the Petco Vaccination Super Station.

With the continuing rollout of vaccines and improved public health and treatment protocols, we hope — like everyone — that we have entered the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Until then, we will strive through the tireless work of our team members to keep our patients safe, as well as those who care for them and fulfill our mission to deliver unparalleled service to our community."