KING CITY — Registered nurses at Mee Memorial Hospital in King City rallied Monday in front of the facility on Canal Street during an informational picketing, demanding that management address conditions that they say are undermining the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain the staff needed to ensure quality care.

Mee Memorial’s nurses, who are affiliated with California Nurses Association/National Nurses United — the largest union for nurses in the nation — said a high turnover rate, plus poor recruitment and retention, is putting the hospital’s patients at risk.

“As nurses, safe, quality, compassionate patient care is our No. 1 priority. Currently the administration refused to listen to our concerns,” said Barbara Martinez, an RN in the ER. “We cannot sustain quality care with the levels of staff turnover and the vacancies we are experiencing. That’s why we’re rallying. We want the public to know that we’re advocating for high quality care and we welcome their support.” 

Monday’s rally was meant to be informational and to gather support from the community. Nurses held up picket signs that read “Safe Staffing at All Times,” “Respect RNs” and “Nurses Demand a Fair Contract Now,” while vehicles driving by honked in support.

“This community and our patients deserve the best in care and that’s why we are speaking out as patient advocates,” said Porfirio Montoya, RN, Medical-Surgical. “We are rallying because for months management has refused to take the necessary steps to strengthen nursing staff recruitment and retention. To ensure quality care, they must invest in the nursing staff. They must listen to us and act on our concerns.”

Mee Memorial currently employs about 62 nurses. At the rally, the nurses said they have not been given pay raises in more than three years and there are many vacant nursing positions that have yet to be filled. They are requesting a fair labor contract with hospital administrators.

“This is an opportunity for us to educate the community, educate patients and make a stand up to administration about not having a fair contract,” Montoya said. “… We’re losing nurses, and we cannot recruit.”

According to Mee Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Susan Childers, the hospital has been actively negotiating a contract renewal with its nurses to come to an equitable agreement.

“Providing safe, quality and compassionate care to our patients is our first priority, and we also need to ensure that the financial viability of Mee Memorial is preserved for now and the future,” Childers said in a statement released to the press. “Our goal has been and remains to bring our nurses to a wage that is competitive with area hospitals, so that we are able to recruit nurses to join our workforce and to retain the nurses that we have. We value our nurses and are actively seeking mutual agreement on the contract renewal.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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