UPDATE – OCT. 18, 7:40 p.m.

Knife River Care Center in Beulah is another health facility that contracts with nurses in unions.

The Knife River Care Center works with IBEW Local 1593, which assists nurses in addition to housekeeping, laundry, and secretarial workers. 

ORIGINAL STORY – OCT. 18, 4:18 p.m.

BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck delivered an open letter to management and the community on Monday, “sounding the alarm” on staffing at the hospital.

According to a news release, the nurses’ message is clear – staffing in the ICU and throughout the hospital has reached critical levels.

Nurses are being asked to do more with less to provide the care their patients expect and deserve.

The letter was signed by every full-time Registered Nurse in the ICU and Critical Care, joined by many other nurses throughout the facility.

“As patient advocates, it’s our job as nurses to make sure the quality of the care we provide is the best possible,” said Margo Maxon, RN, Intensive Care Unit. “When we’re staffed so short, management is effectively tying our hands behind our backs. We’re fed up and sounding the alarm bell now.”

Nurses tried to deliver their letter to the CHI St. Alexius Director of Nursing, Raumi Kudrna, RN, who refused to meet with the nurses. Nevertheless, the nurses waited outside her office for nearly half an hour.

Nurses’ open letter comes in response to recent changes to staffing grids set by hospital executives who decide how many nurses will be staffed based on patient levels.

“I’m tired of my coworkers ending their shifts in tears,” said Preston Helvik, RN, Intensive Care Unit. “This is no way to care for our patients, and it’s not fair to treat our nurses like this.”

“Nurses are exhausted. After two years of a pandemic, to treat us this way is a slap in the face,” said Marie Brown, RN, Intensive Care Unit. “We want to care for our patients with dignity. This is a hospital, not an assembly line. Patients and nurses deserve better.”

The letter from CHI St. Alexius nurses includes a demand for “safe and reasonable workloads so that we may give our patients the attention they require, and so that we may deliver the standards of care that we know we are capable of, and that our patients deserve.”

Nurses at CHI St. Alexius Medical Center won their union in 2019 and are affiliated with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

According to a news release, they won their first contract one year later at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the only nurses’ union contract in the State of North Dakota.

That contract will expire next year.

CLICK HERE TO READ NURSES’ OPEN LETTER