Fawcett Memorial nurses protest working conditions

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Nurses are saying enough is enough at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte. A group of nurses stood outside today to protest, demanding changes in their work conditions.

Nurses are protesting unsafe conditions caused by critically low staffing levels. One nurse said they need more nurses so patients don’t suffer.

“They’re getting more than seven, eight, 10, 11 patients and it’s unfeasible to take care of that many people,” RN Valerie Jean said. 

A high patient-to-nurse ratio means less time per person and less adequate care.

“Adequate is simply having a patient with blood clots have their blood thinner,” Jean said. “Something as simple as that. A patient who has a high blood sugar get their insulin, that’s adequate. These simple basic nursing tasks aren’t happening because nurses are getting pushed to their limit.”

National Nurses United, a union, reports studies show potential patient problems when nurses have too many patients including preventable medical errors, avoidable complications, increased length of stays, re-admissions and death.

“Naturally I’m a nurse, and I want everyone who comes into that hospital to leave feeling better,” Jean said. “I don’t want something bad to happen to my patients that I know I could have prevented, and the hospital is doing that to multiple nurses, to multiple patients at a time.”

That’s why she participated in the protest at the corner of Aaron and Olean because she wants the community to know the truth.

“I’ve called supervision multiple times about the unsafe staffing, they hang up the phone on me. They’re very rude and dismissive,” she said. “They’re not listening to us. They’re not listening to us and that’s why I want the community to really be aware of what’s happening.”

A spokesperson from Fawcett sent NBC2 this statement:

Here at Fawcett Memorial Hospital, safety is our number one priority, especially as we contend with the latest surge of COVID-19 here in Charlotte County and the surrounding communities we serve.

Our fight against COVID is not over quite yet, and external activity like the today’s labor union demonstration will not distract from our focus of caring for our patients.  We will continue to work tirelessly to keep our entire Fawcett Memorial Hospital family safe so we can provide high-quality care to the patients and communities we serve.

In order to keep our caregivers and our patients safe, we have a number of policies in place to protect our entire hospital against COVID, including requiring universal masking for employees and visitors, providing all team members with the necessary PPE (including N95s,) and complying with infection control best practices.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to follow guidance from the CDC and our own infectious disease experts when it comes to quarantining due to COVID. Team members who are isolating due to a positive test will continue to be paid during the time period recommended by the CDC for quarantining, and there are resources available to help our colleagues who need it.

Our Fawcett Memorial Hospital team has been working extremely hard – both during this latest surge and for the past two years as we’ve battled COVID – and we’re proud of how everyone has worked together to provide high-quality care to our patients during this critical time.

When NBC2 asked for further details on staffing, the representative did not respond.

Jean said there are nurses who go through entire 13-hour shifts without lunch or bathroom breaks. She said some are even getting UTIs from bladder damage.