Duluth nurses poised to strike


After an August vote authorizing a one-day strike, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA)  has informed Essentia Health that over 900 nurses plan to strike on Tuesday, September 14. The nurses and hospital system are at odds over what the union calls patient safety and staffing issues. One nurse was quoted in an MNA press release as saying, “We can’t handle another three years of one nurse taking care of 8,9 or even 12 patients at once. Neither can our patients. How many more patients have to sit in their own stool because nobody can answer their call light? How many more patients need to wait and wait and wait for pain medication because there’s no nurse available to administer it?”
The nurses seek the ability to refuse unsafe patient assignments and to temporarily close a hospital unit during an unsafe staffing situation. According to the MNA, nurses in the Twin Cities — in the same state — have  been able to do so for years.

Not everyone is impressed with the nurses’ stance, though. A recent letter to editor, published in the Duluth News Tribune, takes nurses to task:

“I absolutely cannot fathom the idea of allowing registered nurses to shut down admissions to a unit because there were not, in their opinion, enough registered nurses on the job. They definitely need to be introduced to the word ‘triage’,” wrote Michael Walke of Duluth. “At the 7th Surgical Hospital in Vietnam, a unit of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, my thanks went out to those nurses who, in spite of overwhelming incoming casualties, took them all in and cared for them…I suggest these nurses watch a number of “M*A*S*H” reruns. Then they might realize that nursing isn’t just about them, but really is about the patients they are sworn to care for… Clara Barton would hang her head in shame at the attitude of today’s registered nurses.”

What do you think? Are the Duluth nurses behaving selfishly? Do nurses risk alienating the public with strikes? How many patients do YOU typically care for during a shift?


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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