Nurses union says pay gap at Big Island hospitals a safety hazard

Nurses at Queen’s North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital in Waimea were unable to reach an agreement with company management when they met last week.

The Big Island hospital is struggling to recruit new nurses. Queen’s Health System nurses on the island of Hawaii are paid less than those on Oʻahu.

Hawaii Nurses Association President Daniel Ross calls the pay gap a safety hazard.

“The way they operate right now is not safe. We don’t think it’s safe. The nurses are doing the best they can with what they have, but there are too few of them. They are working too little,” said Ross. .

“Patients who are supposed to be on continuous heart monitors – that means someone should be constantly monitoring their heart rate on a monitor – they can’t. The nurses are too busy with other patients to monitor it in permanently,” Ross told HPR. .

Queen’s North Hawaiʻi nurses staged an information picket outside the hospital on Saturday. More than 30 nurses participated.

Queen’s said in a statement: “Our commitment throughout these negotiations has been to negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that provides wage increases and other improvements that support our nurses and their profession. We We continue to have constructive conversations with HNA and have taken great care to listen to and consider every proposal submitted by the union’s bargaining team.”

HNA will have another meeting with Queen’s management through a federal mediator on Zoom on Thursday, April 28.

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Susan W. Lloyd