By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 09/09/14, 9:55 AM PDT | Updated: 47 secs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> Nurses for Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and other San Bernardino County facilities protested Tuesday outside the county Government Center, alleging static labor negotiations between the California Nurses Association and the county are jeopardizing patient safety.

Marching around the fountain outside the Government Center, more than 100 nurses, many wearing red polo shirts, chanted “Patient safety first, be fair to your nurse.” They marched in protest for an hour before moving into the Government Center, where some of the protestors addressed the county Board of Supervisors during their regularly scheduled meeting.

Rhonda Watts, an ARMC nurse of 22 years who works in the hospital’s intensive care unit, said the hospital has become a training ground for new nurses and that the county is not staying competitive by recruiting more experienced nurses or retaining more seasoned nurses from within its organization.

Watts characterized the county’s strategy as being “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Shawna Alvarez, an ER nurse at the hospital, said registry nurses have become more commonplace in the ER than more experienced staff nurses, which she said exposes patients to potentially inadequate care.

“Sometimes I’m the only staff nurse in the whole unit,” Alvarez said.

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