VIRGINIA, MN-- Nurses at Essentia Health in Virginia took to the sidewalk Monday for an informational picket.
“We have been without a contract since August 1st, 2019,” said Joni Pfutzenreuter, a registered nurse, at Essentia Health-Virginia.
With no contract in place, nurses said it creates a tense work environment.
“Some managers hopefully follow the previous contract. Not all do necessarily,” Pfutzenreuter said.
Jodi Hensley, another registered nurse, at Essentia Health- Virginia said the old contract needs updates to serve the nurse's needs.
“We want them to hire nurses, we want them to hire aids, we want security on campus, not just when we are having an informational picket,” Hensley said.
Extra security is a top priority for many of the nurses at the hospital.
“We have also seen an increase in assaults,” Pfutzenreuter said.
Candy Matzke traveled from Minneapolis to support her fellow nurses.
She wants to see the same protocols at her hospital implemented in Virginia.
“If we need help and a patient is threatening us, we can push our beeper,” Matzke said.
The beeper alerts all medical staff and security at the hospital.
Since this has been implemented at the hospital Matzke works at, she said, there have been positive results.
“I think assault incidents go down due to the beeper utilization. But, Also, how we deal with the patients to deescalate and talk to them in the level they are at the moment to connect with them and help support them,” Matzke said.
With a negotiating session slated for Tuesday, nurses in Virginia hope what they are requesting can be reflected in an agreement so they do not have to go on strike.
Monday's event was not a strike, and the hospital was open on Monday.
After Tuesday’s negotiating session another one is scheduled for August 27th.
We reached out to Essentia spokespeople, they were not available for an interview today.
They shared a statement that said they respect the nurse’s right to picket.
Hospital leaders said they are a valued member of the Essentia Virginia team and they will continue to work toward a mutually beneficial agreement.