SEIU 1021

SF RNs storm health commission meeting demanding safe staffing


Registered nurses with San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), Laguna Honda Hospital, and SF’s community clinics say tension is high, risk is up, and morale is low. They rallied outside of SFGH on April 23 against unsafe working conditions then boarded a bus to storm the SFDPH Health Commission meeting. They delivered 2,000 “assignment despite objection” forms documenting how short staffing is leading to serious risk to both patients and hospital workers. 

These nearly 1,500 complaints reveal chronic problems for RNs across all departments – from the emergency department to the psychiatric department and the birthing unit. 

Not enough nurses means no meal breaks, missed or late medications, an increase in risk for patient falls, and more assaults on staff. Jennifer Esteen is the SEIU 1021 SF Community RN chapter president who delivered the documents. She also shared alarming statistics with the commission: An SEIU 1021survey where more than 70% who responded report they were physically assaulted.

RNs, who are locked in a tough contract fight with the City, say the answer is more full-time staff, not travel nurses. “One of the reasons that people have not been safe is because our administrators have made us work in unsafe working conditions,” said Esteen. “Because we are short staffed day in and day out.”

Only one health commissioner, Dr. Laurie Green, was in attendance, saying the rest were out sick. SFDPH Director Dr. Grant Colfax was in attendance and did not make any comment.

Dozens of RN’s stepped up to address them, while others in the audience held up signs that read “Fix Our City”. Dawn Surratt, a nurse practitioner with occupational health services, said, “We are the ones who are the closest to the pain. We are the ones who are the frontline care providers… a lot of it comes down to staffing with permanent staff, valuing the staff that are doing the work, and making sure that people feel appreciated.”

You can read about the action in the San Francisco Chronicle here or watch it on CBS here.