Healthcare Workers, Nurses Declare Staffing Crisis at St. Joseph Eureka, Redwood Memorial Hospitals

This is a press release from the National Union of Healthcare Workers:

Members of National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) and the California Nurses Association (CNA) declare a staffing crisis at St. Joseph Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospitals and expose the dangerous and unhealthy impacts on patient care. They call for immediate staffing in critical departments.

On Monday, September 10, at noon, on the front sidewalk of St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka, dozens of hospital providers and nurses will demand that both hospitals adequately staff key departments immediately so that they do not continue to compromise patient care.

“For months, those of us who work closely with patients have informed Hospital Management that certain gaps in staffing are causing dangerous situations for our patients,” states Allen McCloskey, Union Steward with NUHW and Lab Technician at St. Joseph Eurelca. “At least tvvo patient deaths are being investigated because the Hospital used bed alarms instead of hands-on care. We are offering concrete proposals that the Hospital can implement to remedy this crisis, and they have ignored us.”

“I suffered first-hand the impacts of St. Joseph’s under-staffing,” says Ruby Sierra, a Monitor Technician in St. Joseph’s Progressive Care Unit (PCU). “Foot the only Monitor Tech working my shift and my Manager denied my requests for cover when I needed to use the bathroom. For the sake of keeping patients safe, I remained at my station and urinated all over myself. Nobody should have logo through the humiliation and physical torture I went through.”

Recent reports show St. Joseph’s profits are more than healthy and that the Hospital failed to provide the amount of charity care it promised the State it would.

“Nursing Assistants care for more patients than what is realistic and safe,” states Lesley Ester, RN, a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital and Union representative with CNA. “I don’t understand why the hospital administration is risking patient care if it can afford to adequately staff our hospital. What will it talce-more patient deaths?”



  • Urinated all over herself? There is more, much more, to this particular story than the manager refused to provide cover. Anything so senseless is very unlikely that simple. It sounds like hype.

    I do think that St. Joe’s has a management crisis of some kind. A few disaffected employees is one thing but when numbers of grumpy ineffective people are at the lowest level, it speaks to it not be personal problems but a management problem. Either poor organization, too much work or aggressive management. Or all of the above.

    When getting a straight forward, ordinary medical test takes three rescheduling by the lab and, when I’m waiting to sign in, am behind 2 people getting rescheduled for the same test for the same reason after they arrived, it is clear something has gone wrong. Nobody is explaining things to the patient or care giver. And there is no slack allowed for human issues. Which are inevitable.

    • I worked at a hospital where bathroom breaks were refused, employees bullied, and staff required to move patients through a unit like food on an assembly line. Wake up! Hospitals are notorious for understaffing and lining the pockets of administrators.

  • The Entropic Empath

    As I have previously stated:

    It is VERY common, in the modern hospital, to staff with an inadequate number of trained, licensed, competent persons.

    That said, the net result is that the few persons who are actually qualified, licensed, trained and competent, will be expected to do the work of three people.

    At St Joseph’s, and I mean Redwood Hospital and St Joseph’s in Eureka, the employees are treated like shit, the HR department is staffed with incompetents who think that THEY are the professionals, salaries run %35-50% lower than other areas of California for comparable work, and, if you work there, you have to deal with a fat-ass and sad UNION, who is there to fail to negotiate in your favor, while sucking part of your salary away!

    I, as an experienced ancillary healthcare professional, REFUSED to accept a position at Redwood Hospital, because they are so old-school, ass-backwards, and since they refuse to operate with regard to patient safety or employee safety. These clowns actually expect you to accept low pay, start out as a per-diem, expect all new employees to work nights, and they expect you to go through “Catholic indoctrination Camp”!! The “compliance officers” at St Josephs will quickly make up lies about any “non compliant employee” and make sure that they NEVER get a position at St Joseph’s again. St Josephs is probably the worst employer in Healthcare, period.

    When I heard about all this, I just said: “Look here, either give me a benefited full time position on a shift I actually want to work, or, I will go somewhere else.” They didn’t, I did. I would never work at either St Joseph’s location, and, I certainly would never be a patient there either.

    I predict that strikes will follow and that there will be an epic struggle to staff, control, and simply to operate these facilities, in the very near future.

    Unions are never a good way to go, and they only get a foothold when the management is backwards, draconian, exploitative, and severely broken.

    I hope that the patients and public in Humboldt County wake the heck up and get involved in the operation of the few medical facilities in Humboldt, before the facilities all completely self-destruct.

    • “These clowns actually expect you to accept low pay, start out as a per-diem, expect all new employees to work nights, and they expect you to go through “Catholic indoctrination Camp”!” None of that sounds unreasonable for a Catholic hospital in an area of high rates of publicly funded health insurance. It sounds like ordinary temp, on call work many times offered to new employees. Rough sometimes but fairly common for newbies.

      • Northern California represents a “high rate of publicly funded health insurance”, and this is nothing new.

        Hospitals have been starved to the point of failing to recruit and retain afequate numbers of qualified persons to care for patients, which places responsibility for care in the hands of certificated but uneducated persons, in many cases.

        This is where you are in Humboldt. The CNA’s, MA’s and LVN’s are revolting. These people have very little business administering to your care, but there you are!

        Also, when you look around carefully in the average Humboldt County healthcare facility, you will see non-citizens, people from other countries who are not citizens of the US but who have been sponsored to an H1B visa by some slickster businessman, who then sends the non citizen out as a “traveler”. Humboldt County Laboratories are becoming the training ground for freshly minted medical technologists and nurses, who have licenses but who are not US citizens. Many of these people have little experience, and they are hired over US citizens because the foreigners will work for less money.

        Meanwhile, best of luck working at St Joseph’s, which is well known to be a very poor quality work environment. Whenever you do hear public complaints, it will be the housekeepers, the Nursing assistants, the dietary staff etc. St Joseph’s hospital is a wonderful example of what is wrong with hospital management in California!

        Nobody is forced to work there, and the whole “Union trip” with “shop stewards” and “seniority” makes the experience just that much worse.

        Lots of other towns, hundreds of other hospitals…

        Vote by not working there, and by not consuming care. You are not a sheep, make up your mind if you want to be treated like one…

        In addition, when people say that Mad River Hospital is better, wow, you know very little! Mad River offers low paid employment, a very repressive work environment, poor quality management, and high levels of internal chaos. Wait a month or two, and watch carefully. People are coming and going like crazy, and this hospital is in the middle of a top-down shakeup! Mad River is not a District Hospital, but it is run just as badly as many district hospitals, and I reference Eastern Plumas, Jerold Phelps, Mendo Coast and many others.

        If you want decent care, leave Humboldt County.

      • have you worked at St. Joes? In what capacity, what years did you work? That’s right, I don’t believe you.

        • Worked at Redwood Hospital, 2013-2014. Quit, since management would not deal with the drug addict in my department, and because they would not give me a benefited full time job except on graveyard shift.

          Got another job immediately, for 20% more money, with benefits. Days. Haven’t looked back.

          Don’t care what you believe. When did you work there?

          Also: St Josephs is attempting to “join” Adventist Health:

          This will be an even bigger mess for Humboldt, as Adventist Health is operated by lying devils who only care about money.

          Stand by, things will not improve in Northern CA…

          • I’m closely acquainted with someone who worked for both St Joes and Adventist Health and there are extreme differences between the two.

            Adventist Health was a great employer and in his experience treated their employees very well, and paid well. His wife also worked at both and took a $15/hour pay cut moving from Adventist to St. Joes, and the work environment is much worse.

            Every department is short staffed at St Joes, so even if they have an excellent staff, mistakes will be made and things will fall through the cracks.

    • As a retired nurse,the more money these establiments can make with losing money or being sued the more they love it. Forget the workers or the patients. Its all about making money for them!!! People use to go into the medical profession to help people, not anymore!!!

  • Why urinate on yourself when you have bed pans readily available? Not much of a problem solver,feel sorry for people that can’t live without a doctor

  • I had very good experiences at Redwood Memorial some years back, both as an outpatient (tests of various kinds) and an inpatient (several days, after surgery) — the nursing care was super good! Even the food was good! — so it really saddens me to read this. And it’s scary. I don’t know whether or not this treatment of staff is unique to St. Josephs but it’s truly terrifying to think that so many hospitals are managed so badly. Seems like a hospital just has to be part of a (nominally) non-profit chain to survive in today’s economic climate, especially in rural areas.

    I feel sorry for Lone Ranger when the Fickle Finger of Fate catches up with him or her.

    • We all have the same fate with or without the use of a doctor’s fickle finger.

      • The issue is when and how ugly, not if.

        • Where is the “if” in we all have the same fate,as in die, no ifs here ,we all will die someday.

          • Again- there is no “if” as I said. But there are when and how. If a problem can be solved by a doctor, allowing a longer and/or happier life, that is the when and how.

            • Then why say If? I guess I accept death better than others,I think if you are happy with your accomplishments then a person takes death better, not sure humboldt healthcare system is going to prolong and happier life,lol, good luck with that ,now that’s a big IF

        • What’s missing here is pointing out the original statement which YOU REPLIED to… they never said IF. They used the term WHEN. You replied with a comment stating “The issue is when and how ugly, not if”. You’re the one who brought up “if” therefore the comments redirected to you… Capiche?

  • My 87 year old grandpa was in a car accident last week-a roll over. He was taken to their E.R. at St Joseph’s. They did cat scans and deemed him just fine. He was seeing double and could not walk, he could barely move, he was so sore. They started the process to release him, after only 2 hours in the E.R.. We objected, he was not okay. We were ignored.

    We stood him up because they said he had to leave. He then could not make it to the bathroom, and urinated where he stood, in his jeans that two of us had to put on him.

    Two days later, his doctor found a sub cranial fracture. They missed it, at the E.R.. They pushed him out the door. Nearly compromised his life.

    Something is wrong there, there was no love, no concern. The staff seemed way calloused and distracted.

    I am sure there are many more stories than just this one.

    • Thank you for standing up for what is right
      helping our town get better services is really hard
      You must drive your loved ones to UCSF no matter what
      There is no real medical care up here stop kidding yourself
      St Joe’s is dangerous and life threatening even for basic tests and procedures

    • Years ago my wife was in a car wreck. Took her to St. Josephs in Eureka. Both her arms were bruised but one had a hard bump in the middle of the forearm. They put a cast on the other one despite my asking repeatedly ” are you SURE that’s the broken one?”.. They blew me off and said ” We are the professionals here. We know what were doing”..2 weeks later after the uncasted arm is still unmovable and in intense pain, and she could wiggle all fingers under her cast with no pain at all, hospital calls us back. ” bring her back in, we cast the wrong arm. The x ray was upside down”…another time I was in there with meningitis. They had an iv in my arm. They forgot to discontinue it and kept it on high all night despite me telling them it morning my arm was swollen up like a water balloon. So much of solution had leaked that I could press my skin and liquid would come out. They diluted my blood so much it there me into an electrolyte imbalance and I couldn’t have fluids, not even a sip of water, for days…I have more stories about there but you get the picture..

    • Yep! So more stories out there.

    • Yep! We all know someone, or even more that have had similar experiences at Redwood.

    • Fracture at c5c6. Catscan said no fractures. Performed bt St Joseph ER Eureka. Same experience callous uncaring staff in such an opiate hysteria that they cant see when someone is seriously injured. Second huge mistake they made with my care.

  • They almost killed me in st Jose Mad River was the best hospital experience I have had. The food was great also

  • Obamacare at work

    • Bullshit. Humboldt care. I’m going to Oregon for health care, and it’s just fine. It’s Humboldt County that’s the problem. Without ObamaCare, you wouldn’t even have your Medicare [edit]

    • Capitalism at work….

      • Nationalized health care as many problems too usually long waiting times or limited services or refusal of what is considered effective but newer treatments. The government tells its citizens when and how they receive treatment because, as is true everywhere, the piper calls the turn.

        Besides, even if health care is socialized, it is funded through taxes on capitalistic business. Almost no purely socialist countries exist and very few that do are spectacularly unable to provide for its citizens.

        • Doesn’t sound so bad to me: “50% of patients surveyed had to wait 4 weeks or more to see a specialist ” I waited 4 months right here to see an internist, not to mention two hours in her office, and she charged $285 for the visit.

          • If you are a person with a heart defect waiting a year for surgery after having waited already for each specialist along the way, you might feel differently.

            It has become an issue in their recent election. As for travelling to see a doctor you prefer- that is not a possibility in a world where the government assigns who you see. That is a freedom of choice generally unavailable in nationalized health care. “”Every time you seek help you also see a new doctor… This makes us lose time on assessments and follow-ups,” Heidi Stenmyren, president of the Swedish Medical Association, told AFP. ”

            The complaint about the lack of medical resource in Humboldt County is the national standard in many euphemistically called “single payer” countries. Many of American’s complaints about heath care are there too.

    • Obama is no longer in office, healthcare has changed dramatically under the new administration. I’ve been a nurse for 30 yrs. I see it first hand. Educate yourself.

      • Health care was changed under Obamacare but many of the ruinous changes were scheduled to be initiated after the end of his term. You may be seeing the unforeseen effects now but they were made under the Obama Administration.

        What changed have you seen in the last eighteen months that the Trump Administration did? All these changes were part and parcel of Obamacare from digitizing records, wholesale eliminations of employer related coverage, closures of rural hospital and private practices due to inability to pay for new mandated record keeping and reporting, the micromanaging of care through mandated tests of service, and the huge increase restricted participating provider plans.

  • Urinated on herself? Like her patient was gonna die if she used the bathroom? That’s on her. Now she has to clean herself up and change panties and scrubs or go commando with fresh pants.

    • Clearly you don’t know what her job is then. MT don’t do direct patient care. They monitor cardiac rhythms and other hemodynamics. For that particular department it’s for 40 patients at one time. Leaving means no one is watching for life threatening changes or able to call code blue emergencies overhead. And they are two floors below the patients they are watching with no access to ask someone face to face for a break. Imagine being in a basement by yourself with only a phone…and no one answers the phone. Where do you go to the bathroom? If she went to the bathroom and left the room….and something happened to a patient or a code couldn’t be called who do you think would be in trouble? Certainly not her manager. There should always be two MT staffed at all times to avoid this situation.

      • My impression is that, if one employee is missing, then there is no one to cover their position. That extends from the lowest level of people doing scheduling through doctors. That is likely a management issue as an attempt to save money. But in the end is creates a crisis as not having the employee on duty to take care of the problem does not eliminate the problem. In fact it creates other problems needing extra employee time.

        Of course why there is such desperation in saving money may be something beyond management’s control as hospital reimbursement rules have so changed since pre Obamacare days of per item coverage to Obamacare per admission coverage. The new rules advantage large hospitals in urban areas with a large percentage of private insurers. Something Humboldt County doesn’t have. For all I know, St. Joe’s may be paddling as hard as it can to keep afloat as it seems to be perpetually contstructing and reconstructing its campuses. That must cost a lot and seems so chaotic.

  • Didn’t the nurses file some sort of statement with the state earlier in the year relieving them of responsibility since management has been ignoring the safety issues? Didn’t you do a story about that Kym?

  • St. Joe’s is heavily overstaffed with underperforming and over paid upper management. The people who are closest to patient care are unable to implement needed changes because it take permission from the pope (a joke, but not far from the truth) to do anything. Everyone is afraid to make decisions without getting multiple approvals often from people who are clueless.

  • I was at St. Joseph ER with my husband for the entire night. For fourteen hours we waited in the waiting room because all ER rooms were full along with the hospital. In my estimation, more than half the patients were there just to get opioids. One young women came in on an ambulance after she intentionally hit herself in the face. People were sleeping on the floor. Opioid addiction is clogging up hospital ER rooms and driving up health care costs. I feel sorry for the hospital staff who are on the front line of this crisis.

  • As a CNA , they purposely understaff us so they can pocket more money. I’ll just say it, when it gets bad: there’s no showers, your going to stay in your soiled diaper for a while until I help the other 15 before you, dinner will be cold because I’m feeding 4 other people first before I can help you feed yourself, I’m not going to brush your teeth or wash your face- that’s extra time I can have helping someone else with a more immediate care i.e. diaper change. There’s more but what do you expect when you give 1 CNA 15 patients on PM shift? Im not proud, I feel terrible but management decides and the State inspectors don’t give a shit and allow us to be understaffed. FYI: if you don’t have private insurance, your screwed.

  • First of all, these hospitals are not under Catholic Healthcare West anymore, so you can’t blame the Catholics for this one. They have been under Provident for quite some time now. I noticed a couple of comments, again, from people who have no idea what they are talking about, regarding the young lady who urinated on herself. When a staff member asks to be relieved to use the bathroom, they are to have relief long enough to take care of the task. No, she couldn’t use the bedpan in the presence of a patient. It is not unreasonable to expect to get a break for necessities like this once in a while. She couldn’t leave a patient unsupervised. How do I know this? I was a nurse for years. The administration of this hospital is clearly at fault for the critical understaffing, and is leaving itself, and its Doctors and nurses open to legal liability.

    • But why? It’s a not-for-profit health care system. It is not trying to make a profit. Maybe that the hospital is relying on fund raising more than reimbursement for services? And that fundraising is itself an expensive activity? That and trying to recruit leads to a new building but not enough staff? That the way insurance reimburses no longer pays for the standard of care it requires?

  • I would love to be a malpractice attorney, or a shill for one. You could fund a very handsome lifestyle suing St. Joe.

  • I recently spent 5 weeks in Redwood Memorial Hospital and although the nurses seemed to do a very good job one of them dropped my IV tube into the urinal and then just wiped it off with an alcohol pad and hooked it back up, needless to say I ended up with an infection and blood clot in my right upper arm that could have had very serious consequences, I was very lucky but will the next person be, understaffing causes nurses to be in a rush and being in a rush will cause a mistake which can or will hurt a patient, there are plenty of people out there that will work and do a good job if they are given the opportunity, hire them and give the nurses a chance to slow down

    • Wait: there was a urinal directly below where your IV was being hooked up? Was your “accident”–no pun intended–in the bathroom? Unbelievable:. this IS disgusting….if only it were true.

      By the way, I know an EXCELLENT attorney. 😉

  • I was a patient at Redwood Hospital I had a allergic reaction to a medication. The nurse came into the place where I lay on the gurney, and gave me a shot and some Benadryl. Then she left. I had no way to call anyone if I needed them. My gurney had a curtain around it, and there was another patient on the other side of me. The nurse came in and told him to calm down. He started banging on his gurney. 3 times he did this. Next thing I know, he is next to my gurney, looking at me. No way to call anyone, I said for him to go lay down. He laughed at me and just stood there. I yelled out for the nurse several times. Finally she came and told him to stay on his side, and left again. I got up and told them I was leaving.

  • My experience at St. Joe’s emegency room earlier this year was a bit different than mentioned above. There were not a lot of people waiting. It took about an hour to get into a cubical, where I mostly waited for another 8 hours. Periodically a tech, nurse or doctor would come in to check the monitor, eventually sending me home a bit before midnight after giving me a dose of medication and a prescription for more.

    However, although I repeatedly asked for a drink of water the whole time, I was told they would have to ask the doctor and I never saw them again. Eventually, very late, I got a sip of water with the pill, went home to bed. The next morning I was sick as a dog, went back to the ER only to have a blood test showing I was dehydrated. So I got a lecture about drinking enough water. Well duh. I had spent most of the previous day not getting any water, went home not aware of the problem til it made me sick. So, while I feel that the ER staff technically did fine with my condition, the lack of continuity (?), personal concern (?) created more work that they did not need anymore than I needed the stress.

  • I’m hoping folks are still reading these msgs cuz I have a question…
    What happens to nurses if they, for example, administered a medication incorrectly… Like thru the IV rather than subcutaneously and the patient coded…??

  • Everyone should be “Free to PEE” and that is that!! And if you have not already seen the Movie “Bridge to Terabithia” you must!! Then sing out “Free to Pee” 🙂

    • Hospitals are required by state and federal law to staff with adequate numbers of trained, licensed, competent persons. They are also required to follow all applicable employment law.

      See that they do!

  • Not many people noticed this whistleblower retaliation lawsuit from a former employee who worked in employee health and was fired for reporting St Joes to the state for covering up patiently safety complaints.

  • These patients are lucky to have the union. The last non-union employee to report St Joes to the state for patient safety violations was fired for whistleblower retaliation 6 days after filing his report.

    Here is a cached version of the article discussing the lawsuit.

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