Desert Regional Nurses, Other Tenet Hospitals to Hold Opposition Rally to Proposed Sale as Desert Healthcare District Board Vote Expected

Nurses from Desert Regional Medical Center and other Tenet hospitals will hold a rally and voice their strong opposition to the proposed sale of Desert Regional to Tenet as the Desert Healthcare District board is expected to vote on the proposal at their board meeting on Tuesday, May 28, the California Nurses Association announced today.

“Every day my coworkers and I see how Tenet is failing us and our patients,” said Cyd Greenhorn, a registered nurse at Desert Regional. “We see how our units are chronically understaffed, forcing patients to wait for care as we run from patient to patient trying our best to provide the highest quality of care. But we know there are things that we are missing, there are times when we know our patients need more from us but we are unable to provide it because we simply have too many patients to care for and not enough nurses. We are calling on the district to maintain Desert Regional as a public asset and to create an oversight mechanism that would allow the board to demand Tenet, or any future lessee, remedy safety violations when they arise in the hospital.”

What: Rally by Tenet nurses opposing sale of Desert Regional Medical Center

When: Tuesday, May 28 at 4:45 p.m.

Where: UCR Palm Desert, 75080 Frank Sinatra Dr., Building B, Rooms B114 and B117 Palm Desert

Desert Regional, a public hospital governed by the Health Care District, was leased to Tenet Healthcare until 2027. In September 2023, Tenet proposed a deal to renew its lease and buy the hospital. Nurses are opposed to the sale and are committed to keeping Desert Regional a public hospital. They are calling on the district board to create a mechanism for the board to hold Tenet accountable for violations of safe patient standards. Any sale of the hospital would have to be approved by the voters.

Nurses from a number of hospitals owned and operated by Tenet in California and Arizona will speak out about the troubling conditions at their facilities. The nurses hope their stories will serve as a warning to the board and voters as they consider how a sale to Tenet could harm the community’s well-being.

“Tenet continually places profits above patient safety, and quality nursing care,” said Liz Hurt, a registered nurse at Tenet’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. “What was once a tight-knit community hospital is nothing more than a profit-driven business to Tenet. We feel this every day when our units are understaffed and nurses are given unsafe assignments.”

Nurses at Desert Regional have long sounded the alarm about the failure of Tenet to maintain the hospital facility and the chronic short-staffing problems. California Department of Public Health records provide a clear picture of the widespread problem at Desert Regional. In 2022 and 2023, there were 73 substantiated violations of nurse-to-patient ratios, which are determined to be the minimum staffing requirements to provide safe patient care under California law. Nurses say these substantiated violations of safe staffing are just the tip of the iceberg as CDPH is rarely able to thoroughly investigate complaints.

Another indicator of short staffing is the rate of hospital-acquired conditions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services penalized Desert Regional in 2018, 2019, and 2022 for its high rate of hospital-acquired conditions. These conditions include post-surgical infections, pressure sores, falls, and other issues. The onset of these conditions is associated with inadequate staffing that makes it difficult or impossible for nurses to turn patients, help them get out of bed to exercise or to go to the restroom, or devote the optimal time to wound and surgical site care.

“Voters need to understand that Tenet has a track record of making promises it does not keep,” said Caroline Ng’ang’a, a registered nurse at Desert Regional. “It is imperative that we retain community control over our public hospital and not allow our public asset to be swallowed up by a multi-billion-dollar health care giant that is willing to sacrifice high-quality patient care in pursuit of exorbitant profits.”

California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and nearly 225,000 RNs nationwide.

Image Sources

  • Nurses Rally: CNA