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Las Vegas-area healthcare workers protest in front of Sunrise Hospital

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Posted at 6:18 AM, Dec 02, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As coronavirus cases continue overwhelming hospitals across the country, a protest campaign at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas is planned for Wednesday morning.

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The Service Employees International Union Local 1107 says it is launching "Walk Out Wednesdays" in response to the "untenable working conditions that have persisted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic" in HCA Hospitals.

Healthcare workers nationwide are getting slammed by the pandemic. Hospitalizations are up in 43 states, including Nevada.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said in late November that one person dies from the coronavirus every two hours.

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In a press release announcing the protest HCA Surgical Tech Erika Watanabe said:

“If you are going to call us heroes in public then treat us like heroes in private. Give us sufficient PPE, hazard pay, and make sure that we have adequate testing so we don’t get our patients or our families sick. While all of us are here making a sacrifice HCA CEOs are talking about the profit they’re making because of the high degree of acuity in COVID-19 patients. They need to stop obsessing over profits and make sure hospital workers have everything they need to care for patients."

In response to the early morning protests, Sunrise Hospital CEO Todd P. Sklamberg said:

“At a time of a national nursing shortage during the most critical public health crisis the world is experiencing, it astounds us that the SEIU would attempt to use COVID-19 as a bargaining chip to the point of suggesting their members walkout, which would be a violation of their contract . We encourage the union to work with, not against, us during a time when the entire healthcare community should be coming together to protect and care for each other and our communities.”

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The Walk Out Wednesdays protest campaign will continue every Wednesday throughout December until their demands are met, the union says.

Patient abandonment is illegal, so the union says workers will only be walking out of the hospital while on break or after their shifts.