WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – National Nurses United, the union representing registered nurses at the Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph and Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospitals, was going to deliver petitions to hospital management demanding improvement in patient care. However, the nurses at Via Christi St. Francis said that didn’t happen.

The nurses claim they work in unsafe conditions due to understaffing, which puts patients at risk.

“With the open door policy, they decided that, I guess today, we don’t have an open door policy,” said Shelly Rader, a registered nurse in the emergency department at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital. “Security met us at the front door or at their offices and would not let us in.”

The petitions come a month after a one-day strike was held at both hospitals in Wichita and another Ascension hospital in Texas.

Nurses at the hospitals are negotiating fair contracts that would improve patient care by improving working conditions for nurses.

The union claims that Ascension is maximizing profits over patients and has enough financial resources to hire more staff. Ascension is in the top 10 largest health systems in the U.S.

KSN News has reached out to Ascension Via Christi for a statement. They sent us the following:

Our highest priority remains the safety and well-being of the patients, associates and communities we are privileged to serve. Leapfrog recently awarded Ascension Via Christi St. Francis a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade of A, along with grades of B or higher for all Ascension Via Christi Kansas hospitals, demonstrating the organization’s culture of safety and performance through well-implemented policies and procedures and staff support. 

Recruitment remains an everyday initiative through our robust workforce development program and partnerships with more than a dozen schools of nursing. As of mid-July, a record-setting 141 May 2023 graduate nurses had accepted full-time positions. 

We continue to negotiate in good faith to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that respects the human dignity and rights of all. We look forward to returning the focus to resolving issues at the bargaining table and reaching agreement on an initial contract for our registered nurses.”

Ascension Via Christi Health, Inc.