ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nurses in Florida joined a national protest Friday.
The nurses say HCA Healthcare, one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the country, is planning to lay off nurses and cut their pay.
Their reasons for the protest don't stop there.
Nurses also say the hospital chain didn't protect its employees well enough during the coronavirus pandemic.
Friday protests are planned for Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee and St. Petersburg General Hospital.
The pay cuts “are especially disgraceful and a slap in the face while we have struggled, often without adequate protective support from HCA, to protect our patients, keep ourselves and our families safe, and limit the spread of the virus in the face of this dangerous pandemic,” said Edie Gates, an RN at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville.
National Nurses United, a union representing 10,000 of HCA's registered nurses, says more than 100 nurses have died across the U.S. from COVID-19.
A spokesperson for HCA West Florida Division said there have been no layoffs or furloughs at HCA Healthcare or any HCA Healthcare hospitals in Florida. The spokesperson said there are also no plans to do any and the hospitals have been doing everything they can to avoid them.
The HCA spokesperson sent 10 Tampa Bay this statement:
"At a time when hospitals across the country are struggling to survive and many are resorting to furloughs and layoffs, it is surprising and frankly disappointing that unions would demand pay raises for their members and may reject the continuation of a generous pay program that is providing continued paychecks for more the 100,000 colleagues. The goal of HCA Healthcare’s pandemic pay program is to keep our caregivers employed and receiving paychecks at a time when hospitals throughout the country are experiencing significant declines in patient volume and there is not enough work for them. More than 16,000 union members have benefitted from this program, even though it is not part of their contract. The program was initially slated to last until May 16 and has been extended through June 27. We are maintaining our focus on keeping as many of our colleagues employed as we can, despite the lower volumes. Colleagues elsewhere in the organization are forgoing wage increases, and executive leadership, corporate and division colleagues and hospital CEOs, CFO,s CMOs, CNOs, and COOs have taken pay cuts. While the union appears to be focused on pay raises for some, our priority is on all our colleagues and their families."
The HCA spokesperson also said they wanted to be clear that NNU does not represent all HCA nurses, not even all the ones at its West Florida Division Hospitals.
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