Nurses at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCSF Medical Center in Parnassus came out this week with complaints about overcrowding and staffing problems that they say have led to eroding conditions for patients.
At Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, patients sometimes lie in hallways on stretchers for days, said Dianne Sposito, a nurse in the hospital’s emergency room.
“This has many drawbacks,” Sposito said in an interview. “How do you provide good care in a corridor?”
UCLA nurses, affiliated with the California Nurses Assn./National Nurses United union, held a rally outside the Los Angeles hospital on Wednesday to voice their concerns and urge hospital officials to improve their practices.
Sposito also said patients with serious conditions have waited several hours to receive care. That includes people who have chest pain, transplant patients with complications, people experiencing excruciating pain who can’t get morphine, and people who need mental health care who aren’t seen right away.
She said that on a typical day, the emergency room fills up so quickly that by 11 a.m. people are forced to wait in tents near the entrance.
“I feel sorry for those people who wait a long time in the emergency room,” Sposito said. ‘They don’t have sinks and bathrooms like in their room, you know what I mean? They are trapped in a corridor with some curtains around it… they have put a curtain between the patients.”
She said that while hospitals are not facing COVID-19 spikes as before, conditions have made it difficult to keep patients who have tested positive for the virus away from corridors and waiting areas. Sposito said they are sometimes unable to isolate COVID-19 patients at all due to a lack of available rooms.
Hospital staff also complained about the use of so-called shadow beds – a second bed added to rooms where one patient is supposed to be. Employees have expressed concerns about patient privacy in these rooms, as well as the safety issues of having to navigate the limited space between beds and necessary medical equipment.
While the hospital has contributed to increased safety and more staff, Sposito said meeting patients’ needs was a challenge every day.
A UCLA Health spokesperson said in an emailed statement that hospital officials “value nurses’ commitment and input” and are working to address issues raised by them. The statement said the organization has filed a request with the California Department of Public Health asking it to continue to keep more than one patient in some rooms if needed to provide care.
“The safety of our patients, nurses and all staff is always UCLA Health’s top priority,” the statement said. “UCLA Health carefully monitors bed availability, patient discharges, scheduled procedures, supplies and other data 24 hours a day to make strategic decisions about staffing levels, use of overflow areas and use of a limited number of shared patient rooms when needed to accommodate large numbers of patients. patients seeking care.”
At the UCSF Medical Center in Parnassus, nurse Kate Garzero said, “It’s like playing ‘Tetris,'” when she works in a room with two patients when there should be one. Garzero said she and other staffers feel like “task machines” are constantly running to get things done.
San Francisco hospital nurses have said their concerns about understaffing are unheard of and the personal pressure to come and help is overwhelming.
“I put my scrubs down and I think about my day the next day and I already know there’s a possibility that we’re two nurses short,” Garzero said.
A UC San Francisco spokesperson said in an email statement that “UCSF meets the requirements of the California Department of Public Health, including staffing ratios and space utilization.”