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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nurses at Research Medical Center picketed outside the hospital Friday evening, protesting what they say are staffing shortages and high turnover rates.

The National Nurses Organizing Committee, which is in contract negotiations with Research, represents 698 registered nurses at the hospital. They said, in 2017, Research Medical Center hired 188 registered nurses but lost 169 nurses the same year.

In addition, nurses said Research isn’t following their own staffing requirements.

“Staffing is our number one concern, and the nurses that work here know that when we have the correct kind of staffing, that we can give better patient care,” said Leslie Rogers, a registered nurse at Research for 43 years.

Research’s contract with the National Nurses Organizing Committee ended May 31st.

In response to the picket, HCA Midwest said that they are proud of the culture they’ve developed at the hospital, and “it is unfortunate, but not unusual, to see tactics like this when a union and an employer are engaged in contract negotiations.”

Read their full statement below:

“Research Medical Center is very proud of our nurses and the culture we’ve developed at our hospital which is based upon open communication, and high-quality care we provide.

“We continue to earn national honors for quality and safe patient care. For example, in 2017, Research Medical Center earned Advanced Certification for Comprehensive Stroke Centers; The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®; and the State of Missouri’s Level I Time Critical Diagnosis Stroke Center, providing definitive care to high volumes of stroke patients within the region. Additionally, last month Research earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Sepsis Program Certification, the first and only hospital in the State of Missouri.

“The honors and accreditations are in direct correlation to the dedication of Research Medical Center’s caring and highly skilled nurses, support staff, physicians and the high quality of care we provide.

“National Nurses Organizing Committee has criticized Research Medical Center for employee turnover, but this labor union has failed to acknowledge that Research now has almost 40 more full and part-time nurses than were employed at the start of the year, and that does not include the 55 new graduate nurses that will begin their orientation in June and July as part of our nationally recognized “StaRN” training program. The “StaRN” training program maintains a 99% retention rate. Furthermore, our most recent 2018 nurse employee engagement scores increased 17% year over year, further indicating that Research Medical Center nurses are motivated and driven to provide the very best care in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

“It is unfortunate, but not unusual, to see tactics like this when a union and an employer are engaged in contract negotiations, as we are with this union. We want to ensure that our community understands that neither this—nor any other action—will ever come between us and our commitment to the high-quality care and services we offer our patients and this community on a daily basis.”