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UAB ER nurses hold protest over conditions, pay

September 7, 2021 GMT

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Emergency room nurses at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital briefly refused to clock in Sunday night as part of a protest over pay and working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic that they said has left them overwhelmed and feeling defeated.

News outlets report that the night shift nurses briefly refused to start their shift on Sunday night as part of a planned protest. Nurses said they were fighting for equal compensation and described working through a surge of COVID-19 patients while being understaffed. The hospital said there were about 20 medical staff involved in the protest and the workers began their shifts after discussing their concerns with hospital leaders.

One nurse, whose name was not given, told WVTM that nurses felt overwhelmed after working on the front line through multiple resurgences of the virus.

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Another unnamed nurse told the station that the protesting hospital workers felt defeated and wanted their voices heard.

The nurses said it was part of a planned protest and said that patients were not denied care because day shift workers stayed late. The hospital in a statement said about 20 emergency room staff started their shift about two hours late Sunday night and that patient care was not impacted.

“We recognize the pressure COVID has put on our nursing staff,” UAB Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe said in a statement.

She said the hospital has offered pay increases, bonuses and incentives when possible during the pandemic.

“The concerns voiced this week by emergency department staff will help inform ongoing discussions about compensation as we adjust the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape and pressures of the pandemic,” Poe said. “We continue to encourage the public to get vaccinated and to wear masks so we can end the pandemic sooner and relieve stress from our dedicated staff.”