MADISON, WI- University of Wisconsin Health nurses say they are struggling with exhaustion, burnout and being understaffed. So, this week hundreds of U-W Health nurses in Madison voted by 99% to strike for safe, quality patient care and recognition of their union, Service Employees International.
U-W Health nurse Tami Burns tells WTMJ, big changes need to happen.
“Covid just exacerbated the underlying issues that already existed,” said Burns.
Burns works with heart and vascular patients and says the pandemic has created the perfect storm of being understaffed, dealing with employee cuts, turnover, exhaustion and burnout.
“A lot of long held behaviors in healthcare were kind of turned on their heads when we had shortages of supplies and an increased number of very sick patients. A lot of times it felt like there was no control over what was happening.”
Ultimately she says this puts patients care at risk.
“Studies are going to easily back that up over and over and over, that when we don’t have time to sit down and get personal with patients and learn about them and how they live their life, we can’t come up with a plan for them,” Burns said.
Burns says they hope to get their union recognized and have a seat that the table to have civilized discussions by going on strike.
WTMJ reached out to U-W Health and they responded via press release saying in-part, “The decision by the Service Employees International Union is disappointing. They will harm patients knowing that their actions will not gain them an answer to legal questions.” The release goes on to say, “As we approach their stated strike dates, our efforts will be focused on protecting our 700,000 patients from care disruptions and our 16,000 Madison-based providers and staff from threats and intimidation.”
The U-W Health nurse strike is set for September 13-16.