Conference highlights shortage of nurses

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(Host) Health care workers will converge on Montpelier Saturday for a conference on labor issues and the state’s growing nursing shortage. The meeting at the Statehouse is sponsored by health care unions and the Vermont Worker’s Center. James Haslam is a conference organizer:

(Haslam) “It’s the first ever health care workers’ conference in Vermont. So we’re hoping to have health care workers from around the state in all different aspects of health care come together and talk about how to make it a health care system that really works for everyone.”

(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders will speak at the conference, along with representatives of nurses’ unions.

Sue Lucas is president of a union local at Copley Hospital in Morrisville. She says fewer people choose to stay in nursing because of tough working conditions.

(Lucas) “We’re all admitting that there is a serious shortage upon us. But we know that there is a more of a shortage of nurses that are willing to work in hospitals because of the short staffing and the poor working conditions in many of the hospitals. And this isn’t just a Vermont issue, it’s actually a national issue.”

(Host) Nurses at a number of Vermont hospitals have joined unions in recent years. Nurses at the state’s largest hospital, Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, are still negotiating their first contract.

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