WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With a petition submitted to the National Labor Relations Board that would cover some nurses in Wichita, KSN asked nurse advocates what that could mean for patients and nurses.

“The union would provide an extra layer of protection,” said Melissa Jaquez, nursing hiring supervisor for TrueCare Nursing in Wichita. “So I think that if they’re unionized, they have that extra layer of protection. So how we’re supposed to be our resident’s advocate, that’s what a union could do for nurses, is be that person that is going and fighting for them.”

Jaquez says long hours and shortages in the health care field during COVID-19 has led to burnout for some nurses.

“Being a nurse is so rewarding. But it can also be a lot of stress,” said Jaquez. “They need an advocate.”

The petition to the National Labor Relations Board comes from National Nurses Organizing Committee – Missouri & Kansas/National Nurses United:

In the petition, it says the coverage for employees could be up to 625 that would be covered. The petition also says those covered would include: “All full-time, regular part-time and per diem registered nurses, including registered nurses who serve as relief charge nurses and full-time charge nurses, employed by the Employer at its acute-care hospital facility currently located at 929 North Saint Francis Street in Wichita, Kansas. Excluded: All other employees, registered nurses employed by registries or other agencies providing outside labor to the Employer, nurse administrators, managerial employees, confidential employees, physicians, other professional employees, technical employees, skilled maintenance employees, business office clerical employees, guards, other nonprofessional employees, and supervisors as defined in the Act.”

One nurse in Wichita that has been in the field for 36 years says being a nurse is not just about the paycheck. But long hours and extra shifts can add to nursing concerns and can lead to burnout.

“Nurses give their all. Some appreciate you. Some don’t,” said Cindy Cotton, Registered Nurse/BSN. “You don’t get to work just as a nurse. You’re wearing several hats at one time. A good nurse will do patient care. A good nurse is there for the family.”

Ascension Via Christi CEO Kevin Strecker said on Tuesday, “We have received notice of the petition and are still evaluating our response to this action.”