California Nurses Association members, techs and other staff protest planned layoffs in front of Glendale Memorial Hospital early in the morning on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

California Nurses Association members, techs and other staff protest planned layoffs in front of Glendale Memorial Hospital early in the morning on Thursday, January 31, 2013. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / January 31, 2013)

More than 100 nurses and support staff picketed outside Glendale Memorial Hospital on Thursday to oppose planned layoffs that they argued would negatively impact patient care at the 334-bed facility.

The planned layoffs were announced last week, but hospital officials declined to say how many or which positions would be affected.

But on Thursday, Desi Murray, spokesman for the California Nurses Assn., said the hospital had informed the union that on Feb. 15 it would be laying off 41 nursing support staff, which include licensed vocational nurses, nurses aides, monitor technicians and custodial staff.

Hospital spokeswoman Rima Mardirosian said Glendale Memorial would not comment on which positions were being eliminated or when.

A mix of registered nurses, nursing assistants and other support staff marched in front of the hospital’s entrance for more than an hour early Thursday before filling out petitions to submit to hospital management.

Kathy Sampson, a registered nurse, said that if support staff for nurses are cut, they will be stretched thin with added duties such as checking cardiac monitors and delivering doctors’ orders.

Glendale Memorial and parent company Dignity Health said in a statement they were disappointed in the protest, and that the hospital will remain open with “all services available to meet the needs of the communities we serve.”

In announcing staff reductions last week, Glendale Memorial attributed the planned layoffs to an increase in the number of uninsured patients caused by the lengthy economic recession and cuts in government insurance programs. The hospital also reported seeing fewer patients in recent months.

Murray said that the union had asked Dignity to rescind the terminations, adding that it was hard to trust a nonprofit corporation that manages 40 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada.

“Dignity is a profitable company, making a profit…this is more about increasing profit than providing care,” he said.

Two months ago, the city’s other major hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center, laid off 21 workers in response to federal healthcare payment reform and other industry shifts.

Ramon Fabular, a registered nurse, said that because Glendale Adventist cut non-clinical care positions, such as groundskeepers, the layoffs there wouldn’t be as damaging as those planned for Glendale Memorial.

“They are cutting the direct patient care here,” he said. “And they’re not cutting back on non-clinical care…there have been no layoffs in the nursing administration."

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

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