1199SEIU Healthcare Workers Launch Bargaining With 19 HCA Florida Hospitals As Critical Staffing, Retention, Care Crisis Faces Patents, Caregivers

March 2, 2023

CONTACT: Ed Gilhuly
egilhuly@leftcom.com | 305.807.6906

MIAMI – Members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East – the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida – have launched bargaining for a new contract with HCA-affiliated hospitals to secure pay and protections that will help alleviate a critical staffing and care crisis that has placed patients, caregivers and the state’s entire healthcare system at risk.

Contract negotiations will cover about 10,000 nurses, CNAs, technicians, dietary aides and other healthcare workers united as 1199SEIU in 19 HCA facilities in Florida.

As part of a broader effort to solve the HCA staffing crisis, 1199SIEU has joined numerous caregiver unions across the country in launching a national website in which the public can report their concerns about staffing and safety risks that they’ve experienced or witnessed at HCA facilities.

HCA is the largest healthcare company in the nation and reported approximately $13 billion in profits and $120 billion in revenue combined in 2021 and 2022, yet a recent study shows the company operates with staffing levels about 30 percent lower than national industry averages.

A survey of HCA caregivers found that about 80 percent of respondents in Florida and nationwide agree that “short staffing at my hospital is compromising patient care” and well over half report that they “feel forced to find a new job/profession due to short staffing and burnout.”

Experienced registered nurses and healthcare workers in Florida who have risked their lives to save others during the COVID-19 pandemic are leaving hospitals and other healthcare facilities because of low pay, disrespect and disregard for their lives. ‚Äč

Safer staffing levels, increased pay and better protections would help recruit and retain experienced caregivers, and stop the dangerous spiral for patients and caregivers in one of Florida’s largest hospital systems. And with approximately 40 percent – or $24 billion – of annual company revenue generated from taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid programs, caregivers say HCA owes it to our communities to provide safe, high-quality care.

“HCA is a giant corporation with massive profits that can well afford to make patient care and the well-being of its employees a higher priority,” said Cherine Cushnie-Duruo, a Patient Care Technician/Unit Secretary at a South Florida HCA hospital. “Instead of paying their CEO $30 million , spending hundreds of millions on stock buybacks and prioritizing profit, HCA should respect us, protect us, pay us and staff us.”

Research shows HCA’s pattern of short-staffing, as well as insufficient equipment, resources and training long pre-dated COVID-19, but the pandemic dramatically exacerbated the care crisis. A series of recent investigative news reports nationally and in Florida related to this crisis have illustrated examples of dangers to patients and caregivers, and even death.

The research shows HCA hospitals have performed worse than average on key patient quality indicators including death from pneumonia, as well as patient satisfaction scores, which are related to delay of care.

However, some caregivers report when they express their concerns to management about dangers to patients and coworkers, call for safer staffing or document other safety issues, they have experienced retaliation and intimidation rather than support and solutions from managers.

1199SEIU bargaining committee members will be addressing and demanding solutions to all these critical issues during negotiations, including proposing contract language that would make staffing levels transparent and create incentives for the HCA to abide by them, address high turnover by rewarding staff longevity with increased pay, and protect staff who are forced to work in unsafe situations.

“Our union members are healthcare heroes who are committed to providing the highest quality of care,” said Roxey Nelson, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President for Florida. “We’re standing together to improve conditions for all healthcare workers, patients and the communities we serve.”

Members of 1199SEIU work at HCA facilities in the following Florida counties:

Miami-Dade County -- HCA Florida Kendall Hospital, HCA Florida Aventura Hospital.
Broward County -- HCA Florida Northwest Hospital, HCA Florida Woodmont Hospital, HCA Florida
Westside Hospital and HCA Florida University Hospital.
Palm Beach County -- HCA Florida Palms West Hospital and HCA Florida JFK North Hospital.
Saint Lucie County -- HCA Florida Saint Lucie Hospital.
Osceola County -- HCA Florida Osceola Hospital.
Seminole County -- HCA Florida Lake Monroe Hospital.
Charlotte County -- HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital.
Sarasota County – HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital
Manatee County – HCA Florida Blake Hospital
Pinellas County -- HCA Florida Largo Hospital, HCA Florida Northside Hospital and HCA Florida Saint Petersburg Hospital.
Pasco County -- HCA Florida Trinity Hospital.
Hernando County -- HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital.

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest union of healthcare workers in Florida, representing more than 25,000 active and retired nurses, certified nursing assistants and other staff in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities throughout the state.