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Dramatic Settlement Sets National Model for H1N1 Hospital Safety Measures

(OAKLAND, CA) /PRNewswire/ -- In a dramatic settlement seen as a novel pattern for the nation, the nation's largest nurses union and professional association, and one of the country's biggest hospital systems has announced a landmark agreement that sets a national standard on containing the spread of pandemics such as H1N1 "swine flu."

"With this historic agreement, we are charting a new course for limiting the spread of not only swine flu but all other dangerous pandemics that are yet to come," said Rose Ann DeMoro, CNA/NNOC executive director. "We are pleased that Catholic Healthcare West is joining with us to set the highest possible hospital safeguards for patients and nurses and creating an innovative model that every hospital in America should follow."

The settlement involves 13,000 registered nurses in 32 CHW facilities in California and Nevada who are represented by CNA/NNOC.

The settlement, also averted a strike that had been called for October 30.

"This is a huge breakthrough that should go a long way to making our hospitals safer and better prepared for containing the spread of H1N1 and stop the unnecessary exposure of fragile patients, their family members, or nurses and other staff to the virus," said Carol Koelle, RN at St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino.

"Catholic Healthcare West nurses have stood together to protect our communities and our patients," said Allen Fitzpatrick, RN at St. Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco. "We can proudly expect the best possible standards to limit contagion and protect our members as well," said Kathy Dennis, RN at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento.

"We are proud to have achieved an agreement that will strengthen our ability to provide safe care for our patients," said Portia Fiesta, RN at St. Rose Dominican in Las Vegas. In calling the terms a national model, CNA/NNOC repeated that it continues to hear from nurses at other hospitals across the nation of serious lags in hospital readiness in such major areas as isolating contagious patients, distribution of N-95 masks, re-use of the masks, informing staff when they have been potentially exposed, and training everyone on the best policies and procedures.

"Now that the President has declared a national emergency on swine flu, it is more important than ever that we have uniform, consistent safety policies in every hospital to protect the public," said CNA/NNOC's Catholic Facilities Division Director Jill Furillo, RN. "There should be no more excuses for any hospital to fail to follow this model."

CNA/NNOC represents 86,000 registered nurses in all 50 states, and is working toward unification with the Massachusetts Nurses Association and United American Nurses to build a new 150,000 member national nurses organization.