Sharp Nurses in San Diego Rally for Better Pay

Sharp nurses say poor pay and working conditions have led to poor retention in their field, causing concern for patient safety

Hundreds of nurses who work for Sharp Healthcare rallied Thursday in downtown San Diego, fighting for better pay.

Currently, the nurses are working without a contract and many nurses are leaving the company. The nurses say this makes it more difficult to properly care for patients.

In the past three years, Sharp has lost about 1,300 nurses. Some nurses have said their hospitals are so short-staffed, nurses can’t take lunch or even bathroom breaks during their shifts.

“We’re really concerned about the patient safety. We’ve had a lot of nurses leave with the last year – lots and lots of our co-workers – and it’s creating an issue with patient safety due to nurse retention,” explained Karen Battenberg, a clinical registered nurse at Sharp.

Sharp says their company policy does not condone skipping breaks, and if a nurse is experiencing this, they should bring the issue to a manager’s attention.

The local nurses rallied at the San Diego Convention Center hoping to send a strong message to Sharp executives: Sharp nurses want a competitive wage to keep skilled nurses in the company’s healthcare system, as well as better working conditions.

At a news conference Thursday, Sharp Healthcare said the company's nurse turnover rate is not excessive compared to hospitals across San Diego and California.

Sharp Healthcare said the company is offering a pay increase to nurses of 16 to 26 percent over the span of a three-year contract.

The nurses' union said their group hopes to have another negotiation meeting the Sharp executives over the next few weeks.

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