Nurses march to office of mayor
No talks are set as the Kauai strike enters its third week
LIHUE » Wilcox Hospital nurses enter their third week on the picket line today.
They marked the occasion yesterday by marching from their lines to Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste's office.
The nurses say they are calling for better patient care through a new system that regulates the amount of nurses per patient and is flexible enough to adjust when patients who need more care are admitted.
Hospital administrators say there is already a plan in place and have offered a 21 percent raise over the three-year contract.
While both sides say they have been in touch with a federal mediator, no talks have been scheduled.
After meeting with the nurses, Baptiste said he "doesn't think that (the nurse's demands) are an unreasonable request" and that he would make a call to Gov. Linda Lingle to see if she would support pressuring the two sides back to the table.
Baptiste added that Wilcox, unlike the rest of the Oahu hospitals run by the nonprofit Hawaii Pacific Health, is a "rural hospital," with different needs.
With so many nurses taking care of so many different types of patients, it is important the system remain flexible.
"These nurses have to be well versed in a number of health areas," Baptiste added. "In rural settings you must be more flexible in the way you staff."
Aggie Piago Cadiz, Hawaii Nurses Association executive director, said the nurses "are standing strong" and have been willing to meet and compromise but that the hospital has been unwilling to negotiate.
The hospital administration has been talking to the mediation team, said Wilcox spokeswoman Lani Yukimura, but a meeting is not likely until the meetings would be "productive."
"Mediation does not require both sides to be present at the same time," Yukimura said. "It's not going to happen in the media."
She added that they will sit down with Baptiste next week to explain their side.
Baptiste said he believes patient staffing is not just a Kauai issue, and that this strike is the first of at least three tough bargaining sessions between the union and Hawaii Pacific Health over the issue in the next few years.