Lawsuit seeks return
of St. Francis nurses for
lifesaving treatment

Queen's nurses enter strike

By Debra Barayuga

A group of patients receiving lifesaving treatment and doctors at St. Francis Medical Center have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Hawaii Nurses Association to allow at least 45 registered nurses to continue providing services.

The suit, filed yesterday in Circuit Court just hours after St. Francis nurses began picketing, would call essential nurses in the dialysis, transplant and hospice units to return to work. Patients rely on the specialized services and treatment only these nurses can provide.

At least 16 registered nurses in the renal dialysis unit, 16 in the transplant unit and 13 in the hospice unit are necessary to sustain the lives of patients in these units, the suit said.

St. Francis employs a total of 374 nurses represented in collective bargaining by the Hawaii Nurses Association.

Refusal to provide these specialized services is a breach of their fiduciary duty, is unprofessional and endangers the welfare of their patients, the suit said.

St. Francis provides renal dialysis services statewide and is required by federal regulations to have registered nurses on duty whenever any dialysis is performed.

The St. Francis Hospice Program is run by 27 nurses and provides care to about 105 families and terminally ill patients. The patients would be forced to return home or other locations where individual and professional care is not available, the suit said.

St. Francis is also the only hospital in the state that performs solid organ transplants. About 360 people are currently awaiting lifesaving organs, and a team of highly specialized nurses are needed in the event an organ becomes available, the suit said.

Because of financial difficulties, St. Francis has been unable to bring in nurses to fill these critical positions, according to Maggie Jarrett, St. Francis spokeswoman.

Officials from the Hawaii Nurses Association, which notified St. Francis on Nov. 21 of its intent to strike, had no immediate comment on the suit.

Hawaii Nurses Association

E-mail to City Desk


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