Protest Planned over fired ICU nurses at Brownsville hospital

A picket is planned against Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville after seven nurses were fired.

The former staff worked as registered nurses in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.

They were all terminated for "insubordination."

Stephanie Gonzalez and Ramiro Castillo each had four years experience at VRMC before they said they were wrongfully fired.

They were among the 21 nurses out of 26 to sign a petition refusing to work a shift known as a Charge Nurse.

That role takes us away from being at the bedside of the patients... being able to monitor them," Castillo said.

Gonzalez believes the role essentially forces nurses to choose between patients.

She said it jeopardizes patient safety and is a violation of the Texas Nurse Practice Act.

"It affects patients' lives... and patients can die from us not attending to them... us abandoning them for 30 to 45 minutes to go to a rapid response... To go to a code blue... so it's not something that should be taken lightly," she said.

The hospital tried to reach a settlement with the 7 nurses, according to a representative with the National Nurses Organizing Committee of Texas, the union representing the group.

Accepting the settlement would have meant a two-week suspension, the punishment placed on their records and a signed document that indicated each admitted to wrongdoing for putting patient safety at risk, according to the union.

The registered nurses rejected the deal as "laughable."

The hospital would not comment on the personnel matter.

A VRMC spokesperson, Robin Brechot, provided Action 4 News with a prepared statement that read:

"We are not going to comment on confidential employment-related matters other than to say that any actions taken by VRMC were carefully considered in advance of any such action. We have made full and comprehensive arrangements to ensure that patient care continues without interruption or compromise. Our community can rest assured that VRMC will never allow anything to come between us and the delivery of the best in care and services.

13 traveling nurses have since replaced them, Castillo said.

That expense could have easily covered the cost of a Charge Nurse whose role does not create a hazardous work environment, according to the fired nurses.

Texas nurses will picket VRMC in Brownsville on Tuesday, May 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Join Ryan Wolf's Facebook fan page by clicking here!