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After a brutal two years on the front lines of the pandemic, nurses at Stanford’s hospitals are on the verge of a strike. As my colleague Emily Hofstaedter reported last week, the nurses’ union, which represents nurses at Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, are demanding better mental health care, staffing support, higher wages, and more vacation time to combat the burnout that has affected an alarming number of those in the profession nationwide. In response to the threat of a strike, the hospital said it would suspend health care for nurses who participate.
Without an agreement with the hospital, the union said it plans to strike beginning on Monday. In the days ahead of the planned strike, following a flurry of media coverage, the hospital scheduled a formal bargaining session on Tuesday, the Mercury News reports.
In a statement provided to Mother Jones via email, Chief Nurse Executive and Vice President of Patient Care Services for Stanford Health Care Dale Beatty said the hospital has “proposed highly competitive contract terms,” including “market-leading pay” and measures meant to enhance “nurse staffing and wellness.” “While we respect our nurses’ rights to engage in this work action,” the statement reads, “we are disappointed that the union has chosen to strike.”
As negotiations continue, Mother Jones spoke to a nurse who works in the pediatric ICU at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford about the working conditions leading up to this moment. Below, she describes in her own words what understaffing in her unit actually looks like, and how, on top of that, she and her colleagues have seen an unbearable number of child deaths in the last year, both due to Covid and not.
Due to concern about retaliation, she asked to remain anonymous. Her account has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Initially, we didn’t get hit that hard by Covid. We were totally…