Ascension Seton nurses confront hospital directors in downtown Austin

Nurses at Ascension Seton in Austin took one small step forward in creating better working conditions and changing the quality of care for their patients.

Contract negotiations first began in November, the union says it reached an impasse with management over their nurse-to-patient ratio.

Nurses came to downtown Austin Thursday to personally confront the management.

About 20 nurses showed up to the downtown Westin hotel, confronting two of the hospital directors and handing them a letter.

"When we have bargaining we only ever see the attorneys," said Monica Gonzales, one of the nurses who came downtown. "I certainly hope they were intimidated by the fact that we showed up."

The letter outlines their concerns about understaffing, and how that can put a strain on the quality of work by the nursing staff.


"It's one of those things that nurses take home at night," said Taylor Critendon, another nurse. "You remember when you've missed a medication for a patient that was having pain, it makes it really hard to do day in and day out."

The last time the nurses picketed was the largest strike by nurses in Texas history.

"That's what causes nurses to leave the bedside," Critendon said. "They are given an impossible assignment and told to do more with less."

Nurses came armed with examples of their concerns formally written up in an Assignment Despite Objection. In the last two weeks there were 19 forms filled out.

The nurses were set to strike for 24 hours, but the hospital hired temporary staff for a minimum four-day contract, and did not allow nurses to return to work when they planned to.

The doors to the hospital were blocked by folding tables and security guards, urging the nurses to leave.