About 200 supporters of the nurses strike marched Friday from St. Francis Medical Center to Thomas Square. Mahealani Anduha, a nurse with Queen's Cardiac Care Unit, addressed the assembled audience at the end of the march.

Striking nurses
leave jobs

An estimated 80-100 people have
opted to take temporary or
permanent positions elsewhere

Unions show solidarity with nurses

By Mary Vorsino

Scores of the 1,400 striking nurses at the Queen's, St. Francis and Kuakini medical centers have walked off the picket lines to take permanent or temporary positions at other local or mainland hospitals, according to union leaders.

As the strike by the Hawaii Nurses Association enters its fourth week, Kaiser Medical Center, Kapiolani Medical Center and local nurse staffing agencies have received a surge of applications, but officials could not say how many were from striking nurses.

And Maui Memorial Medical Center is recruiting striking nurses for temporary positions.

While the specific number of nurses who have taken other nursing jobs is elusive, some estimates put it between 80 and 100. Meanwhile, an estimated 63 nurses have crossed the picket line and returned to work.

Merlene Jose, who coordinates the picket lines at St. Francis Medical Center, said at least 20 of the 300 nurses on strike there have taken permanent jobs elsewhere.

But St. Francis spokeswoman Maggie Jarrett said the hospital has received only 10 official resignations from striking nurses, all of whom had worked full time.

Queen's union leader Bill Richter said he did not know how many of the more than 800 nurses on strike there have resigned, but some nurses put the number at 50 or more.

Queen's spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said the hospital has received "some resignations," but could not give a number.

Sara Cooke and her husband, Michael, both striking intensive-care nurses at Queen's, have accepted 13-week positions at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Wash. Sara Cooke, who has been at Queen's for nearly two years, said she took the Washington position despite a strong camaraderie with her co-workers.

"It's just weird to be so disconnected from management. ... It's hard not to take it personally," she said.

Elizabeth Clavin, an 11-year veteran of the intensive-care unit at Queen's, said she knows that 10 or more of the 100 nurses in her unit have taken permanent positions elsewhere.

Clavin said she, too, has considered resigning. "I'm a middle-aged nurse," she said. "At this point, I can still go someplace else."

Kuakini picket coordinator David Haga said at least 10 of the 208 nurses on his strike line have taken temporary or permanent positions elsewhere.

Kuakini spokeswoman Donda Spiker could not confirm that number, saying only that the hospital has received "a couple of resignations."

Nurses began picketing Kuakini and St. Francis on Dec. 2, while nurses at Queen's walked off the job on Dec. 3. No new talks are scheduled between the union and any of the hospitals.

HNA spokesman Scott Foster said Kaiser is "now the hospital of choice" for striking nurses eyeing the limited vacancies there, but added that they are also being courted by mainland hospitals and Maui Memorial. He could not say which mainland hospitals were recruiting striking nurses here.

Kaiser spokesman Chris Pablo said the hospital, which had few vacancies even before the strike, has received many new applications since the strike began. He said some of the vacancies have been filled, but not necessarily with striking nurses.

Kapiolani Medical Center has also received an increase in the number of inquiries since the strike started, according to spokeswoman Pat Oda. The nurse staffing agency NurseFinders also reported an increase in applications.

According to an e-mail sent to HNA nurses by Maui Memorial's Director of Clinical Nursing Stacey Arakawa, the hospital is offering air fare to Maui, housing and $28.75 per hour. Arakawa could not be reached for comment.

No one at Maui Memorial would say how many, if any, temporary nurses had been hired or whether the positions could become permanent.

HNA Director for Collective Bargaining Sue Scheider expects more nurses to leave as the strike progresses. She worked at a hospital in Washington, D.C., where 1,300 nurses went on strike for seven weeks, and 900 nurses returned when the strike was resolved.

Scheider added that an estimated 30 nurses at St. Francis, 30 at Queen's and three at Kuakini have crossed picket lines.

Star-Bulletin reporter Lyn Danninger contributed to this report.

St. Francis Healthcare System
Queen's Medical Center
Kuakini Health System

Hawaii Nurses Association

E-mail to City Desk


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